Field Day Festival
Victoria Park, London
11-12th June 2016
Summer has arrived and it is bringing us together for two days in the sun, rain, a bit of mud and a great line-up of bands in East London’s Victoria Park – Field Day 2016 – Keith Goldhanger reports, Svenja Block takes the photos.
Sun, rain, sun again, the inevitable mud, some puddles and enough acts spread evenly across this East London park to keep us entertained until the tubes shut down and the idiotic football fans have had their last rumble before heading off to bed and to wake up the following morning wondering why they have invested so much into what can often be such a dour and disappointing pastime. Field Day was a seven nil victory for some of us at the end of the day and a good introduction to the summer weeks ahead when we’ll find ourselves punching the air with delight, dancing in the rain and mud, eating decent food and wondering how we’ve gone through life without noticing certain bands that turn up and knock us out with songs we didn’t previously know existed.
We begin with an impressive show by CABBAGE (pic below), a band we’ve read about before on Louder Than War and once we’re over the usual ‘Birthday Party’ and ‘Fall’ comparisons we begin to feel that here’s a bunch of blokes that could be the very thing that those who seek out mayhem and chaos as ingredients to their social nights may be looking for.
A bit similar to ‘Fat White Family’ in their approach and swagger, they look like a bunch of guys that know they have the songs to win our hearts and are about to spend the next few months, maybe years, throwing these tunes out to an unsuspecting audience who we feel may embrace this and warm to them in a big way.
We’ll be there next time and we hope to see you there too.
LET’S EAT GRANDMA may also be with us for years. They have youth on their side which currently seems to be an advantage as well as a disadvantage. We’re witnessing a lot of interest in this young teenage duo but the tunes at the moment seem to exclude anything that the world outside this tent will warm to. They throw us their debut release ‘ Deep Six Textbook’ to begin with, follow it up with ‘Let’s Eat Shiitake Mushrooms’, play us everything they may or may not have stolen from the school music room and make us feel glad we’ve witnessed this even though we expect the longer this band goes on the more it may change and evolve. Hopefully into something very incredible indeed. This teenage duo are onto a good thing at the moment, they’ve pulled a big crowd and they’ve pulled off a great (short) show but they need to build on this and show those watching that the faith shown in them so far will be rewarded even more than it is currently.
SHOCK MACHINE are like Donny Osmond singing Flaming Lips tunes. We hear half a dozen songs we’ve never heard before and already want them on our hard drives…oops… sorry, turntables. All in black and not a glow stick in sight from this band lead by James Righton who graced the stage previously with Klaxons. This was a very good show by a band who may not have even reached double figures yet in regards to live outings.
FEWS play to a huge crowd in a tiny covered venue as the rain begins to fall – they must be the only four people grinning at the weather gods as they hit us with two chord chugging, exciting guitar-lead tunes that sound like a highly charged Stereolab, stopping, starting and building up each song whilst adding layer upon layer the longer each tune progresses and thrilling us to bits.
Over at the Crack stage the crowd gather in their thousands to only get disappointed as another downpour and line-up shuffle makes way for THE RHYTHM METHOD who then arrive just after the sun reappears thus emptying the tent and leaving the very small amount of diehards to shout, sing and dance along to the best pop music we have available at the present time. Still bereft of the large numbers they’ll surely attract in months to come one of us will continue to walk around pointing at them and telling anyone who will listen and any everyone who won’t that The Rhythm Method really are the best pop group in the world and that this is reason alone to ignore this band at their peril. Three brilliant tunes already out there on the super internet highway and a band we’d like to sit with our grans and watch just before a Saturday night lottery draw one night.
DEERHUNTER come and go and make us feel we haven’t really been putting in the legwork in order to be having the time of our lives in front of the main stage this afternoon. It’s noticeable that some people are though and with a bit more time (yeah, I know they’ve been going for years and have over half a dozen albums) we feel there’ll come a time when we’ll all join in and be able to sing along with everyone else. Certainly the tunes from the recent ‘Fading Frontier’ album warmed our wet feet for an hour.
GIRL BAND are surely the best band in the world right now. Their gigs may not arrive as often as we’d hope but today we’re witnessing one of the best shows some of us have seen all year. This is a faultless, dark, intense, angry and joyous noise. Guitars that sound like nothing ever heard before. A sound that’s as angry as the noise Big Black made when they first arrived without actually sounding like Big Black and tunes as intense as the Gang of Four introduced to us many years ago (again, without sounding anything like The Leeds band from 1980). Pounding drums that PIL may have introduced to our lives many years ago they make a sound like an aeroplane having a lorry load of solid concrete being poured into the engine, a washing machine full of stones or a food mixer full of gravel, a man with a voice that bellows out line after line, not a chorus in earshot and not really much you could call a verse either. This is fabulous stuff with each individual sound cutting through the next one seamlessly making the sound from a basic drum/bass/guitar line-up rather unique which we all think is never possible until a four-piece like this arrive on our doorsteps. A huge raucous mosh pit as well, notable for containing at least three people who we recognise from having their faces on album sleeves in our collections at home. Always a healthy sign.
Four Tet, which is Kieran Hebden and a big table full of laptops and gadgets utilising this huge sounding PA we have here on the main stage, worked a treat. Each tune causing some of the biggest splashes (literally) seen in this field for years, kept our interests up to a point when a non-waterproof watch had us scurrying away quickly to catch the last few beats of Sleaford Mods entertaining the masses before returning to Four Tet and cursing our own bad time keeping.
Metz were loud, raucous and the opposite of what James Blake would be doing on the main stage but believe it or not, slightly quieter. It’s been commented previously that park shows in London over recent years have struggled with bad sound and long queues which is something we don’t witness during Field Day.
The mud on the living room carpet reminds us to take the wellingtons from the summer camping box and head down the road again for day two.
Nothing has been done to soak the water up that remains above the mud and we walk carefully from stage to stage waiting for any surface water to get soaked up by the people wearing their new but now slightly ruined converse trainers.
We head into the Jagermeister stage again and catch ten minutes of GET INNUIT who appear to have rather a lot of chirpy catchy tunes that those in attendance are here to sing-a-long to.
FAT WHITE FAMILY provide us with the usual nonsense which includes a couple of tunes from the recent album, most of the debut album, Lias fiddling with his cock whilst he prances around in some fetching blue underwear whilst the rest of the band (including a saxophone player we’re sure never used to be there) graft away, heads down and being rather excellent. We’ve said it all now and we’ll keep saying it. If you haven’t yet seen Fat White Family then make it your mission to do so. Today’s performance was a good as the last few dozen and for that we have absolutely no complaints.
THE TEMPER TRAP fill a huge tent with people who seem to want to just stand and chatter before getting their phones out to film the tunes they recognise. This is a shame in a way because third album ‘Thick as Thieves’ has a couple of fab tunes on it that this audience seemed to miss completely. ‘Fall Together’ is one huge tune that may one day get the respect that ‘Sweet Disposition’ receives every time this band come out to play. It’s not difficult to witness why this happens at a festival though as these four are basically making soft rock Eurovision friendly music that no one is going to digest properly until they hear a few times. It’ll be a long slog for The Temper Trap but a slog they’ll only be rewarded with during the next few years once the large contingent here start paying more attention to the tunes in front of them instead of just being here for the one tune everyone knows inside out and word for word.
JOHN GRANT is basically Elton John, Supertramp and David Bowie merged into one. New tunes from the latest album ‘Grey Tickles, Black Pressure’ slot in nicely next to the back catalogue of classics he’s already given us. His ‘dad dancing’ seems to get better every time we catch sight of him and the humour in his self-deprecating lyrics still entertain those of us who remember his Glastonbury Park stage performance in 2014 as being one of that year’s highlights.
A change of pace beckons in the company of AIR who fill the early evening tent with polite shimmering laid back tunes, however PJ HARVEY (top pic), over on the main stage now has everyone else’s attention. Decked out in a black feather outfit and with the whole band (and big screens) also in black and white for this, we get a few from her back catalogue and loads from the new album with a slick performance backed by a few Bad Seeds, a Gallon Drunk frontman and good old Terry Edwards sometimes cramming more than one instrument between his lips.
Field Day, despite the weather (or in fact because of the weather) has got us in the mood for the big festivals coming up. This year’s line-up was very strong, a lot of bands cementing their positions and staking claim to the honour of spending the next few months playing in front of huge numbers. One or two lower down the bill bands we expect may reach these giddy heights in a few years time whilst those of us tooled up with decent boots and waterproofs are just happy to be running around and catching as much as we can.
The sound on the main stage was loud enough to mention in this review, and the weather ……..well, the lightning as we left looked spectacular whilst the thunder in the distance meant all jokes about England shaking were totally exhausted by the time we got back to the Central Line.
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.