Field Day Festival 2017: Victoria Park, London – live review
London, Victoria Park
3 June 2017
Summer is here and we’ve been walking around a big field getting prepared for the next few months ahead. Field Day 2017 provided over fifty bands to choose from in one day. Keith Goldhanger got to witness a dozen or so.
For those of us who are forever grinding away in an attempt to see every decent band that grace stages here in the UK this decade Field Day 2017 comes some way in compensating for the lack of time, money and stamina available in our lives to ever achieve such a feat.
Browsing at the poster before getting out of bed one can quite easily discard those artists we’ve never heard of as well as any bands we have seen before and still be left with a huge amount of acts to choose from that we wouldn’t mind seeing. It’s a little bit of a plan to leave the house with but as we all know, these things never often go to plan anyway.
Getting in early is always the best policy with Field Day (especially this year). It’ll get rammed later and around the site they’ll soon be people taking photos of each other whilst everyone is still standing together, waiting for a rave to start, chatting all the way through the shows other people are trying to pay attention to, playing children’s games at a village fete (Village mentality) or riding the fairground rides before the third five pound can of that lager with the red stripe on the side of it kicks in.
That’s all OK as long as we don’t have to join in. Some of us are here to see some bands.
So we’re here then this year for the bands that we’ve heard before but may never have seen live and the list is huge. This year’s event seems evenly spread out across the day with no household name (to us) as a headliner. We know we’d like to see a lot of these bands we’ve circled on our scrap of paper today because patronising London’s large venues on a weekly basis isn’t something we can afford to do. We like to think we’re on the ball when it comes to catching the free shows with up and coming bands in the cool pubs and bars that we find ourselves visiting regularly and we’re aware that there are also many huge bands with huge tunes playing huge venues that we can’t always get to see except when we’re provided with them all in one heap, all on one day, and on large stages during one hot glorious sunny day in June and in this case, just down the road from where some of us live.
There are bands here today that we may not get a second chance to see and as long as we remain on our feet we should be able to stumble across a good number to satisfy our requirements.
Field Day therefore ticks all the right boxes before we’ve even passed through security.
PICTISH TRAIL (pic right) welcome us into the tent to watch ‘a bunch of Scottish blokes singing about miserable subjects on a hot sunny day’. They’re from the Isle of Eigg (Scottish Inner Hebrides) and tell us how utterly fucked off they still are about Brexit and play us a tune they’ve written on the off chance that they may get to represent Scotland in any forthcoming Eurovision song contest they feel may soon become a possibility. Its seventy seconds too long (we timed it) but this is only a minor criticism. This was an excellent beginning to the proceedings and already we’re scouring for more appearances this band will be making before the summer is over.
HMLTD (pic right) have bought us to this tent at this time of the day and we expect this may end in the shaking of a few heads followed by a decision to go for a long walk.
We are wrong.
We saw them a long time ago as Happy Meal Ltd and they were impressively terrible. The tiny room was half empty that evening and the word ‘shocking’ was heard coming from the lips of one or two in attendance. This is the sort of experience that can gets some of us returning to have another look one day. Some of us refer to this as the XX experience however that’s another story. Since that memorable for all the wrong reasons evening their recorded output has been very good and curiosity has got the better of at least one of us. We have already declared them as the band that you’re Granny would hate more than anything if the BBC reinstated Top of The Pops and put this band into the living rooms of the license paying public. They probably have mothers who say those immortal words ‘Are you really leaving the house dressed like that…..?’ a statement that we feel is a bit too rare amongst UK households this century.
Adam and the Ants, Duran Duran, King Kurt and Virgin Prunes all come to mind. It sounds all over the place but it all seems to make some sense. Songs slow down, we get occasional break-beats, tunes stop suddenly, speed up and turn into other songs. This is tightly controlled mayhem we’re watching. They look like The Fat White Family coloured in by a five year old child let loose with a set of Day Glo felt tip pens, or a bunch of Blitz kids, the name given to youths in the 1980’s before the media coined the phrase New Romantics for similar looking young adults. None of their tunes at the moment make us believe they could be potential chart busters and at least one song sounds like it’s being sung by a bunch of Twelve-year-olds after too many fizzy drinks. Once the big hit arrives this lot could split the music world in half. This was a brilliant, entertaining and unique performance today. Nothing about them today could be labelled shit. They do have tunes that maybe, give us a week or two lead us to discover we’re whistling them down the high street. They’re in a world of their own whether people are going to love this or not and that’s another reason to keep an eye on this band. Some folk may have something different to say about that but this is surely the nonsense what we want to be watching when we go out at night. We’re reminded that a lot of those bands that appeared at the Bat Cave back in the early 80’s were terrible. HMLTD are the type of band that could have turned us miserable young goths who sat in the corner of night clubs back then (complaining about Iggy’s Passenger being played every bloody hour, ‘Rock The bloody Casbah and Dear bloody Prudence) into dance floor heroes back then instead of hanging around for ten years waiting for Methylenedioxymethamphetamine to come along to get us off our arses and get our legs and arms shaking. HMLTD are already a band that’s doing all this equally as well as many of the bands in the 80’s who dressed up scared young children but then failed to live up to early expectations just as we began to believe they would. Only time will tell whether we’re witnessing the next Sigue Sigue Sputnik or Towers of London but whatever lies ahead will entertain anyone happy to share their opinions about a bunch of blokes that look like they do and sound like they do. Their forthcoming (presumed) success will piss off many other bands as well. Some of us love it when that happens. HMLTD are certainly one of the days many highlights and have given us plenty to talk about.
FLAMINGODS (pic right) on a bigger stage than when they were seen a couple of months ago http://louderthanwar.com/are-you-listening-festival-review-reading/ works a treat. This is the type of band that anyone with any space on their shelves where all those Nation records artists belong should check these out. We’re sure there’s more people involved helping out today as they provide a carnival atmosphere with tunes such as Mixed Blessings sounding especially superb without all the chaos we witnessed in Reading a few weeks previously.
FOREST SWORDS are drowned out by the chattering hordes who won’t stand still, shut up and stop taking pictures of each other so a visit back to the Crack tent to witness the thrilling brutality of DEATH GRIPS, the exuberant audience and the look of worry on the faces of the security as hundreds (maybe a couple of thousand) crazy kids let themselves go as the tunes chop and change at frequent intervals and never seem to give us a chance to catch our breath. Segments of electronic noise to give Atari Teenage Riot a run for their money, faster than Ministry – brutal tough and angry – BOOM! Strong stuff, fists in the air stuff, time to find that Ale bar. . . . .
ARAB STRAP (pic right) get off to a shaky start but after a few tunes we begin tofall in love with what we’re standing in front of. The longer the show goes on the more incredible this gets. Songs lead by drum machines complemented by a live drummer, violin and piano provides us with moments of pure joy. At times when Aidan Moffat is singing as opposed to telling us a drug related story they sound as passionate as Hope of The States, a truly great band that will never be forgotten. ‘New Birds’ is a glorious story we hear which tells the story of bumping into ex’s, going for a walk and a catch up and it’s a tune or rather a story that we’d forgotten about. We get ‘The first big weekend’, a tune we didn’t expect to hear for some reason but so massive for those who tuned into Peel just to get away from anything about football for a couple of hours back in 1996. Unfortunately this tune seems have been airbrushed slightly out of history for anyone now under forty whose history books probably tell them that the summer of that year was all about ‘Football coming home’ by Baddiel and Skinner, The Spice Girls and a Sex Pistols reunion. There are a few people who still remember 1996 for realising at four o’clock most Saturday afternoons that bedtime Friday simply had not taken place, it was time to pop back down the pub before attempting to get the last tube, miss it, stay awake for another twelve hours, spend twenty quid on a Sunday lunch before going home and to bed ready for work again in about 15 hours.
This song tells the same story but in another town.
They may have disappeared for a decade and we may not have ever got around to hearing too many songs by the band but today it’s decided that some serious catching up needs to be done.
KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD (pic right) are making a shambling glorious racket and are a perfect act to get us in the mood for Thee oh sees later on in the same tent. However in between there’s the small matter of visiting the huge Barn over the opposite end of the site to catch APHEX TWIN.
The Barn as it’s actually called is about the size of a couple of football pitches. Saved this experience up all day. Grabbed a beer, It’s a massive tent, must hold thousands. Couldn’t wait . . . .Couldn’t get in.
Thousands did though, we could see them from the outside waving their arms in the air, smoking fags spilling their beer and screaming at the lights. For the few of us on the outside it just sounded like that noise you get when you pitch your tent at festivals in between two raves that go on until five o’clock in the morning and you can’t work out who is dancing to what.
It’s raining, no one will come out now, someone will upload it onto Youtube no doubt and therefore it’s time to make alternative arrangements.
Over on the main open stage LADY LESHURR was encouraging some kind of Mannequin challenge competition for a free lipstick and baby wipe whilst thanking everyone she knows for about the millionth time and the suggestion that this may have been a better platform for Aphex Twin didn’t go a miss.
SLOWDIVE reminded at least one of us that we may be getting on a bit considering the bit where this band went from playing tiny pubs in Hampstead to being a crowd pulling ‘Heritage act’ thirty years later was missed by one or two of us. These tunes (old and new) give those of us with weary bones a very nice end to the day.
Or so we think as in order to get to our beds we have to navigate a tent full of crowd surfing manic festival going punters all keen on losing their keys and wallets to THEE OH SEES (top pic) who plough through a set of relentless fast furious tunes driven by two drummers hardly pausing to catch breath. Bodies jerk just as furiously up there on The Shacklewell Arms stage as they do in the vast audience, attempting to catch one last musical high of the day. All their songs are played as fast as you imagine they can and they seem to build up until they’re going even faster. Even the quiet bits are played with knee trembling pace. Terrific performance from a terrific band.
RUN THE JEWELS are winding down on the main stage to a large contingent still standing attentively, punching the air and hearing some words of wisdom from Killer Mike before the long walk and disrupted journey to separate destinations in order to continue the party elsewhere or complete what has been a wonderful day in the comfort of our own sofas (and experiencing the rolling news reporting yet another awful incident, this time a few miles away in London Bridge).
We could easily write a list of artists we didn’t see today that could occupy us for another twelve hours one day and we believe as much fun and excitement would be achieved if this was possible. There were half a dozen other acts we didn’t mention that were seen and already investigating before we spend a day or two going through their on line tracks, obsessing ourselves over and walking across muddy fields to see again one day.
The standard this year of acts was very strong as it is every year. Look at any previous Field Day festival posters and gasp at the collection of bands we may not have been aware of then but certainly are now. It was another thrilling ride this year and an event that some of us really do see now as the first big weekend of summer. Twenty years after the last one with that Arab Strap soundtrack, one we learn once we turn off the telly had a re-rub last year.
All words by Keith Goldhanger. More writing by Keith on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. You can also find Keith on Facebook and Twitter (@HIDEOUSWHEELINV).You may subscribe to the Goldhanger Shorts Facebook page too if you so wish.