Field Day 2014,
Victoria Park, London
Sunday 8th June
It’s hotter than day one at Field Day – The Pixies and Future Islands day – Keith Goldhanger retains his impartiality
One wonders during the day more than once whatever happened to all those blokes who looked like that bloke from Clock Opera?
The crowd here today is generally a little older and here for the band from Boston Massachusetts whilst wandering around prepared to take in what else is on offer whilst matching up tunes they’ve heard on the radio recently with band names they may not have previously digested.
The Wytches, from Brighton, are on the big stage (Eat Your Own Ears) and are playing in front of a big early crowd. They’ve been recent additions to the psych banner that many bands are positioned under by life’s anonymous music classification panel which is a bit like football’s dubious pools panel but done to a soundtrack of loud reverberating guitars and catchy choruses that flow and whoosh around peoples heads until they come to a crashing finale. A good start for us, and a good start for them. We await their debut Heavenly records album with vast excitement and anticipation.
After day one of field day the Shacklewell Arms stage moved. Therefore Mickey Lightfoot also grabs our early afternoon attention and has at least one additional man with a debut pint of ale to entertain due to such changes we hadn’t expected. His polite afro beat hip hop is nice but some of us can’t muster the arms in the air requests this early in the proceedings.
The Shacklewell Arms stage today is located where the Crack stage was yesterday which means most of our activities will take place at the top end of the field today thus ruining any temptation to strap ourselves into one of those very impressive but probably very scary and regretful funfair rides. We do get to witness the men in yellow coats practically begging sunburnt lager drinking punters to spend their hard earned cash on dodgems whilst coming to the conclusion that we’re all far too wrapped up in our musical hobbies to spend five minutes buggering about in little cars banging into one another every couple of seconds. We have the Green Man roundabout to conquer on Monday morning and we don’t need reminding about that at the moment thanks.
We get a good long look at Childhood on the (much bigger than yesterdays) Shacklewell Arms stage and we’re very impressed. These guys look younger than the police strolling around the perimeter and we get the idea that if Echo And The Bunnymen could get to learn these songs they’d make a rather interesting childhood tribute band. Childhood tinker slightly with the sound simular to these psych bands we’re harping on about a lot at the moment but with a more poppier edge that we have still yet to digest into our heads. Which is unlike those marvellous songs by Kettering’s Temples that have been embedded in our brains since four o’clock one Saturday afternoon at the Barfly January 2013.
Yet again, it’s a joy to watch a band such as Temples, entertaining and winning over the sun soaked audience in front of them. Most of the debut Sun Structures album gets aired and the set is long enough to allow the sharp thinkers to pop across the field during the set to catch Telegram strutting their loud guitars and welsh voices across the Shacklewell Arms stage. There’s about five hundred more people here than we witnessed at the actual Shacklewell Arms less than twelve months previously.
Follow is such a rip roaring tune that everyone needs to hear. This band are getting closer to that target as the days, weeks and months pass by.
Then it’s the daddy of ’em all that go by the name of The Horrors to claim their 2014 great band to watch as the sun goes down award (previous winners Elbow…). Another long set by the band now four albums in and still throwing us the best bits from 2011’s Skying masterpiece as well as a few from this year’s Luminous album. Still Life stops most revellers in their tracks so they can wave their arms in abandon trying not to dislodge any of that £5 a can warm lager they’ve been gripping onto for dear life . It’s noticeable as we take a little walk around during the set that a large contingent of London’s favourite (based) bands are standing around taking notes (well, getting pissed actually) making themselves comfortable for not just The Horrors but for the forthcoming Pixies set.
However before the Pixies we have a bit of time to take in that band of mystery (my words) Future Islands.
This is what I know about this band.
A lot of fuss was made about their US TV Letterman appearance recently.
This song Seasons isn’t too bad. A bit plain and ordinary and nothing worth writing home about. Nothing worth writing on Louder Than War blogs about either. It’s a shoulder shrug of a tune.
So, because we have the opportunity today to go and have a little look and see what the fuss is all about we will. And whilst ploughing through a sizeable crowd it’s noticeable as we get closer and closer to this that all is not quite well …… the sort of thing we usually find ourselves standing in front of.
Imagine if someone’s dad was told he looked like Henry Rollins when really he looked like Jack Black and then it was suggested to him that he should form a band because the teenage children across the road told him he was a cool dad and then he went on to write a few tunes and was encouraged even more even though the family had never heard Henry Rollins but were now fed up going to the zoo every weekend. Perhaps the family thought they knew what the kids today wanted to hear because they all sit around watching the same movies and watching the same music shows on TV and all wore the same clothes and once a year went along to watch the Rocky Horror show and believed Depeche Mode were cutting edge. Imagine that eh ? er this is the appearance Future Islands’ Sam Herring gives (probably ).
Bouncing around like an over enthusiastic parent during a school karaoke contest whilst making eye contact with audience members, some looking rather bewildered about whats happening in front of them as he winks, waves and makes pretend he knows each one of us (Yes us, I’m part of this at the moment). This man is so unrock and roll that he doesn’t even untuck his t – shirt from his belted black trousers. Musically it’s basically a US Synth-Rock version of Scouting For Girls with a bit of a techno back beat and some 80s sounding catchy choruses that mention things such as ….. well I’ve no idea what he was singing about as most of this was drowned out by the clanking of jaws dropping one minute and huge clapalongs the next. Watching the audience seemed equally as intruiging than the tunes coming out of the huge speakers in front of us.
This was like watching German superstar Guildo Horn during mid 90’s Eurovision (use your Youtube search engine) which is ok for Eurovision because that’s expected. Eurovision comes across as slightly misguided, a bit of a laugh, easy to shrug of and probably entertaining for three minutes whist sitting an arms length from the off button, but this in one word was just bollocks. Plain daft indy synthy poppy musical naffness to the highest degree. This crowd are lapping this up though and there’s many others that will be joining in too I imagine soon therefore making this very old man with a pen in his hand confused and wondering why people are using words such as incredible, belting and overwhelming all within earshot whilst I scratch my head reminiscing about The Fat White Family gig twenty four hours previously and feeling even older but rather wiser and envious of those outside the tent standing in what’s left of the sunshine waiting for the Pixies to arrive.
I’ll make it my personal quest to try understanding all of this another day. I enjoy a challenge, the people around me in Victoria Park this weekend seem a very agreeable bunch and I don’t wish to think bad of all these people thoughly enjoying themselves, but i’m not afraid to tell you I simply don’t understand this. Are people laughing at them ? I don’t think they are. Are people really getting into these in a way that we all used to go mental at Pixies gigs in the early ’90s ?- surely not. Don’t debate this, lifes too short, don’t even mention to me they’re on 4AD, one of the coolest labels in the world EVER …. look, you’ve got your troubles and I’ve got mine as someone once sang.
Ah, The Pixies – Just a band – Plain, ordinary and terrifically presented to us again on a warm summer evening after all these years to do the simple things in life such as sing good songs we can all join in on the backing vocals to and reminisce about those gigs many many years ago that we went to with our friends and partied until dawn ….
Ok not dawn, we partied until closing time when the venues we patronised threw us out early so the same building could host another club night until about three am.
Like Nirvana (just a band ..) they were, indeed they still are the great band with great songs and the an influential act that must be responsible for many other bands we cherish today being formed and now in 2014 with the fantastic catalogue of tunes to keep everyone on their toes and scream along to. Beginning with what must be their shortest tune Wave Of Mutilation and continuing for what must be a thirty song set of classic after classic indie disco floor fillers it was hard enough for us to catch breath let alone these four figures. Three of these we all remember looking as young as we were once and allowing us to feel totally justified in still standing here getting even more outrageously drunk than we were four hours previously.
We do Miss Kim Deal though. Maybe because the massive crowd were doing all her backing vocals drowning out Paz Lenchantins’ attempts but this was just a small crumb missing from the original experiences we all felt late 80s, early 90s when they came to the UK and became better known here than they were back home. They still make it all sound so easy, which is something most great bands have in common.
So that was the magnificent weekend we call Field Day, a weekend to catch up on most of our (definitely my) favorites and moments of personal triumph over the weekend as we saw some of the artists we’ve been out to see on wet Wednesday nights around these parts, falling in love with their tunes, wandering off to lead our own lives and now and then seeing the same people playing in front of larger and larger audiences as time passes by. The Pixies have been a fabulous catalyst for all of this, not just over the years but in being the big name on the posters to get everyone here and allow other current artists the huge audiences that some of us have wished for but maybe never really thought could happen.
Some of us don’t know a great deal about the way the music fairies operate, especially when it comes to popular music makers as I’m sure the Future Islands entourage will agree on which is why seeing some of the people we’ve been going on and on and on and on and on about the past few months get the big crowds in front of them is very heart warming . These artists probably only dreamt about this situation a couple of years ago themselves but to get these people who in the comfort of their homes and cars listen to this stuff, learn the words and follow all this up by turning up in their masses on days like these must be something the bands and some of us also find very satisfying to witness.
Summer eh ? – brings out the best sometimes and it’s only just began.
If you’re in France next month Field day host Field Day Paris
Jamie xx + Four Tet + Floating Points will be playing at Yoyo (in the beautiful Palais de Tokyo) on Saturday 5th July.
Photography by Kiera Cullinane