Field Day Festival 2015
London Victoria Park
June 4th | 5th
Keith Goldhanger reports back from this year’s Field Day Festival down in olde London town.
DAY ONE (Sunday) It’s Saturday and we’re in a hurry.
We’ve slept in a bit too late so the bakers on the corner gets swerved, two five minute bus rides save a fifteen minute walk and one of us attempts to not mention the suspected torn ligament 5th metatarsal diagnosed a few days ago (Ok it was cramp).
A quick skip through the dogs sniffing up to a dozen punters at a time hearing all the jokes about TV talent shows and a bee line to the furthest stage from the entrance just so we can hear the words “This is our new single called ‘Kathleen Sat On The Arm Of Her Favorite Chair”‘ from Merseyside band HOOTON TENNIS CLUB as we indulge in our debut hop around on one foot and sing along to the catchy chorus of…
“…..If you’re lonely, we could go for a walk in the park..”
And although not lonely amongst the thousands in Victoria Park this weekend, a stroll in the park it is for some of us over the next two two days.
We then take a deep breath thanking our fortunes for effectively saving some of us a night out to see this band that sound a little like our favorites Teenage Fanclub from all those years ago when an embarrassingly named music genre was christened called shoegazing.
It’s a nice day and across from the main stage where the curious sound of the cornet, clarinet and big trombone (HACKNEY COLLIERY BAND) is entertaining other early arrivals (who we suspect never hatched a strict schedule like ours) is a tiny shed known to us this weekend as the Jagermeister stage where people will queue to see some pretty decent bands whilst others will shrug and simply wonder what it is that makes us want to wander in and out there as much as we do.
TELEGRAM (Pic Right © Keith Goldhanger) are on in there early Saturday afternoon and surely it won’t be long before these are placed on a larger stage so more people can watch front man Matt (half the band are called that so I’m hedging my bets here a bit) stand on one foot and point at people whist simultaneously stretching his vocal chords a little more making him sound not too dissimilar to Russel Mael from Sparks fronting an early 60’s psychedelic rock band.
Telegram are a great quartet that eventually the world needs to catch up with. It’s that sharp welsh accent that cuts through the music that people will love … and then the songs … they’ve bag loads of that ’em everyone will surely enjoy as time goes on.
SPECTOR on the main stage are throwing out tunes that The Vaccines throw out in their lunch break for B sides. We’ve a new Spector album out any day now and quite a long summer ahead, therefore a big rest of the year ahead for this lot. “Never Fade Away”, a break in tempo from the rest of the band’s repertoire is certainly a festival favourite but have they many more of these that they’ll no doubt need as time winds on? You tell me … I’m off to spend five hundred pennies on a tin of lager and overhear someone comparing Spector with Dexy’s … they may actually have a valid point but we’ve our first break in schedule and loads more stages to go and have a look at.
The stage’s at the other end -let’s call it the west side of the park- are predominately dance stages and as is the norm in many Field Day festivals over the years these are already rammed with people who are just here to dance, smile, drink expensive refreshments and party like its 15.39.
Over on the Shacklewell Arms stage is a young lady called TALA who is running around playing equipment that would normally allow for another couple of people to get involved in and sings middle Eastern sounding vocals over repetitive beats. It’s a bit like watching one of those circus plate spinners dashing around before one falls. It maintains the big crowd but we don’t seem to hear songs happening so we go back to the Jagermeister stage to tear RATBOY (Pic below, © Keith Goldhanger) apart.
RATBOY’s got one man’s back up before we’ve even caught a glimpse of him. The first time we heard him we loved him. Straight away, no problem, this guy (or band) is great we said out loud, but the more we hear of him the more we asked ourselves “….is this town big enough for two Jamie T’s?” — Isn’t anyone else caring about this?
There’s certainly a buzz in the vicinity of RATBOY so we arrive early to let rip and blast “The industry” by claiming there’s thousands of original artists out there that deserve more people’s attention. However, the thing with Ratboy is that his songs are very well put together pieces of work that are harder, faster, more fucked up and very very exciting. Yes they do sound a helluva lot like the man from Wimbledon fronting a raucous Libertines and lesser sins have been frowned upon but those here are giving in to this. We’re going to stand to one side and try to see what the rest of the world make of Ratboy, put our differences to one side for a while and maybe come to some mutual agreement on all this in another six months, maybe once someone else has made an attempt to describe this without mentioning any other similarities.
TUNEYARDS don’t seem to be doing much except hit things and clap a lot, which makes low booming noises that cause us to sway from side to side. (It needs pointing out that at this stage of the day the place is rammed … watching from the back with a few thousand people in between has never been a popular past time of ours) too so we visit KINDNESS on the main stage who are giving us some good proper leg shaking disco and were a short highlight for fifteen minutes until the first cowbell of the day was heard. There seemed to be more and more people up on stage the longer the show went on and the music slowly mellowed away from “yeah! let’s punch the air in a Saturday night fever disco kind-a-way” that had something to do with a Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) collaboration into Whitney Houston lyric mumbling music you’d stomach without comment if heard in an expensive restaurant. From great to dull in such a short time was a real shame.
BOXED IN, back in the tiny shed that sells green alcoholic refreshments, really did set the bar to a new height in getting those in attendance to throw their inhibitions away and dance like mad men and women. Musically they’re a piano driven indie dance band … 80’s funk band PIGBAG without the brass come to mind or even a piano led Toy (who perform here tomorrow).
These are a true highlight of the day.
DJANGO DJANGO are still around to make people dance and as we have established today, this is really what the majority want to do, whether in a big tent, small tent, bandstand or next to the main stage. It’s dancing that everyone wants and dancing to Django Django as the sun goes down seems perfect.
FKA TWIGS (Pictured right, © Keira Cullinane) appeared in a busy tent that had been waiting patiently with absolutely no indication that anything was ever going to happen until they actually appeared and … well performed as though nothing really was happening but filled the tent with pleasant hypnotic tunes. Far off glimpses of a couple of arms on stage dancing made us realise we should have crept into this tent earlier than we had done as the FKA Twigs performance that we managed to view once the big bloke allowed us onto his shoulders looked fab. One to come back to another day in another field maybe?
We end day one in the pleasant company of CARIBOU and their dreamy dance tunes and flashing lights careering towards to East End tower blocks that maybe a good ending for us already anticipating day two but arguably not exactly giving the crowd the ecstatic height of joy to end the day for those who won’t be here tomorrow. Many people may have peaked too early today, however many remain walking around in the park catching the dregs of whatever the burger vans are still pumping out and believing the night may still be young.
DAY TWO (Sunday): After a restless nights sleep in our own beds dreaming of people hanging out of their windows in East London at Four o’clock in the morning shouting BOLLOCKS over and over again or hearing gas canisters exploding we return to Victoria Park and head straight for the Jagermeister shed again to catch a song or two by MARC HALLS, who, along with a fellow guitarist, lever us slowly but pleasantly into the second day of this Festival.
ERRORS are up on the main stage and pull a fairly good sized crowd for One Thirty PM. This set of dreamy dance tunes gives us the impression that we’re back up and running again in the same frame of mind that we left this field in a few hours earlier watching Caribou. It’s certainly not the same without a few flashing lights but it keeps us on our feet, thus preventing any of that getting all cosy on the floor on picnic blankets cos it’s Sunday nonsense. Once the posh kids standing nearby stopped having their loud conversations turning the show into a Public Servive Broadcasting gig this was fab.
BEACH BABY in a nearby tent kept us out of the sun for a few minutes whilst reminding us in their music what it’s like to be in the sun whilst simultaneously skipping along and falling in love. Back to main stage for Leeds finest EAGULLS who didn’t fuck about and threw a set of mostly new tunes at us that sounded like the old ones and gave us the impression that if we weren’t happy with that then we should bugger off. This is a great band to put on the same bill as Patti Smith meaning that early arrivals looking for a bit of punk rock can start the day on a good footing. Eagulls give out the impression they don’t really giving a hoot that they’re performing in front of hundreds of people. Singer George Mitchell doesn’t stand still for the duration of the set but still only manages to cover about two feet of the stage in very small staggering footsteps. Magazine riffs, a bit of Killing Joke and even a bit mid 80’s UK Rock made by those bands many years ago that relocated to the USA in order to live fast and kill off their musical careers were heard amongst the racket we were experiencing. A great band and a great set to get us in the mood for one of our favourite UK bands at the moment HAPPYNESS.
This set by one of the busiest gigging trios around at the moment was a struggle to decipher due to sound problems that us in the crowd struggled with. Inter song banter made some laugh and others say “What?” It’s a rarity struggling with bad sounding bands at festival nowadays to be quite honest, but what we heard were more familiar sounding tunes that must be inspired by their US heavy alternative record collections. We even had a tune that reminded us of Grandaddy today which kept us interested – maybe not the best we’ve witnessed by Happyness (the performance was great, the sound wasn’t) but still blinding stuff that some of us will never give up going to watch wherever we happen to be.
INHEAVEN sang “I don’t wanna bring you down. I just wanna fuck around”and for some reason we experienced a fairly large audience not clapping their hands above their heads, as should have been happening at this point of the bands show. This band appear to have some big tunes that have escaped our attention and we tick this off as another previously unheard band we need to check out a bit closer before the summer is over.
GAZ COOMBES, he of Supergrass, pulls a huge crowd and switches between piano and acoustic guitar throughout the set. Songs that seem to begin very well let us down by becoming a bit samey as they trundle on, do just about enough to maintain our attention but Gaz seems to have been knocking out tunes for as long as we’ve been old enough to buy beer to the effect that it’s hard for some of us to keep up with his activities nowadays. A festival once a year without Gaz Coombes wouldn’t be the same and an annual visit is always worth the circle on the schedule.
Due to unforeseen … yeah, you know the rest. ZUN ZUN EGUI haven’t turned up (shame – they’re a bloody fab band) and one of our many favorite Welsh bands have been given more time to get slightly more drunk than anticipated before performing to a modest but welcoming crowd. CUT RIBBONS (Pic Above) make superb anthemic pop music that’s refreshing, catchy and a couple of accordions short of being the Arcade Fire. Seeing this band today feels a little like turning the telly on for the first time in ten years to watch Eastenders, Corrie or Dr Who and knowing who the characters are, but not quite believing the same people are playing the same role as last time you had a look. Certainly there’s been a couple of line up changes recently however this really hasn’t hampered our enjoyment as they throw out the everso catchy “Walking on Wires” and “In The Rain” – (Some of also know the words). A very welcome half hour and always worth a look whenever this band are in town. They’ve a debut album out soon that’ll be all over your radios we suspect later this year.
BAXTER DURY was certainly another big highlight of the day, if not the whole weekend. A coherent sound inside the “Moth Club” tent was a relief and his short tunes we fell in love with immediately. He can’t help but remind us of his late father Ian in his mannerisms and voice but he is responsible for the songs we hear today and they are more reminiscent of a Parklife (Blur) variety. The wit, the melodies and the overall performance is certainly the best we see all weekend and a rare visit to this end of the park today has been very well rewarded.
Which means that by the time we get to see PATTI SMITH she’s completed the “Horses” album and bellowing out our favourite “Because The Night”. The expression ripping the place apart couldn’t be more apt as the Sixty Eight year old belts out “My Generation” following an announcement that this is her Hyde Park moment – A reference to remembering where she was following the death of Brian Jones and the Stones gig in London’s Hyde Park two days later back in 1969.
We catch YAK for fifteen minutes and experience roughly two songs and a lot of rock and roll buggering about that they seem to be making up as they go along before heading off to see whether people still remember SAVAGES (Pic Below) over on The Shaklewell Arms stage.
In their thousands and it appears that this band are now delivering everything that everyone seemed to be expecting a couple of years ago and more. Jehnny Beth may sing a little like Siouxsie and look a little like The Damned’s Dave Vanian but there’s anger and urgency and dancing now as well as crowd surfing, swearing and stronger songs that some of us found difficult to believe existed in the past. We’ve a new huge band here now that we expect will grow and grow.
Finally it’s back to the main stage to see what those two blokes from Oasis are up to nowadays.
RIDE (Pic Right) are crisp and clean and throwing us tunes we all thought we’d forgotten about and we are now being reminded of these times in our lives during the 90’s flash past as every minute passes. Some tunes bereft of the late John Peel chatting at the tops or tails of Ride’s favourite tunes are missed by those of us responsible in the past of killing the music industry with our cassettes and all talk of reformed bands being a good thing or bad thing is forgotten about for a while. It’s not as though we ever asked Ride to reform but we’re standing here now bloody glad they have. Big guitars and songs at a modest pace mean they still sound as refreshing and hypnotic as they did all those years ago. A band like Ride returning after two decades works because their songs are ones that can be played at a pace they don’t really need to struggle sweating out until the end.
Field day 2015 was fab again. A great way to welcome in the summer and get us ready for the festivals where we don’t get to kip in our own beds in between shifts. This was a strong yet diverse line up yet again this year and now into it’s eighth year is an event that prepares some bands for bigger things whether on their debut albums, second albums or even to expose again those bands that we need in order to remind us what we used to listen to years ago that became a major influence for those now treading the same turf as their hero’s.
I wore my socks and sandals.
Louder Than War would like to Thank the following for the Images supplied:
- Top Picture – Ride by Keira Cullinane
- Telegram – By Keith Goldhanger
- Ratboy – By Keith Goldhanger
- Tuneyards – By Keira Cullinane
- Boxed In – By Jonathan Brothers
- FKA Twigs – By Keira Cullinane
- Eagulls – By Justin Ng
- Cut Ribbons – By Justin Ng
- Savages – By Keira Cullinane
- Ride – By Keira Cullinane
All words by Keith Goldhanger. More writing by Keith on Louder Than War can be found at his find his author’s archive.