Generally approaching 2014's Field Day with massive trepidation due to rumours of torrential rain and thunder, festival goers took to Hackney's Victoria Park for an impressive lineup of newer acts and veteran bands. Unlike enormous festivals such as Glastonbury being akin to that of a small town, the Field Day stages can be easily navigated within 10 minutes so there's never really any excuse for missing acts because you have to walk miles. With Day 1 being dominated by mostly new acts and electronic leanings, Field Day proved its worth as an opportunity to catch the bands that our cooler friends have been bigging up for a couple of months, while also providing a party vibe that was wholeheartedly embraced despite the heat. Day 2 had more of a focus on indie bands, being somewhat unexpectedly headlined by alt-rock legends, The Pixies, post reformation. With the weather holding up for the two days, the festival has no doubt secured itself as a firm favourite for those who went along. Needless to say, we're stoked for next year's Field Day despite the sunstroke we're nursing.
Despite being a somewhat shy and modest character, on-stage Dev Hynes is the polar opposite. Opening with ‘Chamakay’, Dev broke out into the Michael Jackson-reminiscent dance moves that are starting to become his live trademark. Later joined by girlfriend (ex-Friends front girl) Samantha Urbani, they took to the stage to perform songs mostly from sophomore LP Cupid Deluxe, but included older classics like ‘Bad Girls’ and ‘Sutphin Boulevard’. Halfway through the set, Dev stopped to dedicate ‘On The Line’, arguably one of his most emotive, delicately produced tracks, to friend and collaborator Adam Brainbridge, also known as Kindness. Continuing to soar through the songs, I look to the crowd and everyone is entirely captivated by the genuine innocence, and showmanship that he embodies – but suddenly I hear roaring. Turns out Florence Welch (who was inconspicuously dancing on the side of stage) has joined them to dance on stage. This quickly fizzles out, and we’re met with a guest appearance from rapper Skepta who features on ‘High Street' – while some look confused at this (not so) unlikely pairing, Skepta injected fresh energy to the atmosphere that had no signs of slowing down. Standout moments included Samantha Urbani, with the help of the live band, performing Friends hit ‘I’m His Girl’ and final song ‘Time Will Tell’ morphing into a Blood Orange medley, even making musical nods to Florence with ‘Dog Days Are Over’ and Sky Ferreira with ‘Everything Is Embarrassing’ (which Dev originally wrote). A few days before Field Day, Dev stated on his Facebook page that he didn’t know when he would be back in London as Blood Orange, so he had a few surprises in store. Being hands-down the standout performer on Saturday, Dev swelled up before getting off the stage – ‘’I came to the first ever Field Day, so this is surreal.’’ And it was.
Besides writing some of the most infectiously uplifting synthpop in indie today, it’s hard to think of Future Islands without envisioning frontman Samuel T. Herring doing that dance. Headlining the Shacklewell Arms/Best Fit Stage, festivalgoers were treated to easily the most enjoyable performance of the prominently quiet day, with Herring and his bandmates injecting new blood into the dying corpse of Sunday at Field Day. Interacting with the audience, Samuel swivelled, slided and even twerked to a bursting-at-the-seams tent full of sweaty, adoring fans as they cried back the lyrics to ‘Balance’ so loud they overpowered his mic. Future Islands saw the festival’s most genuine, endearing moment and it’s no surprise there was security staff personally ushering the oncoming crowd with ‘TENT FULL’ signs before their set had even started.
Filling the pre-dusk slot, Warpaint came on stage to a less-than-average main stage crowd, but that shortly changed. Opening with ‘Intro/Keep It Healthy’, the crowd’s sentiments were shifted to moody, visceral and atmospheric – they ploughed through the set with ‘Love Is to Die’, ‘Go In’ and ‘Disco//very’ off their self-titled sophomore LP, but the real highlights that really engaged the tired crowd were early classic ‘Undertow’ off debut album The Fool and ‘Ashes to Ashes’, their impressive feat of a Bowie cover.
Words and Photography by Rachel Grace Almeida
As the sun began to set, Jon Hopkins brought his superb Mercury nominated album Immunity to the main Eat Your Own Ears stage. Hopkins’ grounding in the classical world becomes instantly apparent when watching him perform live as he brings incredible depth and emotion to his otherwise cold and apocalyptic blend of experimental techno. His live setup consists of a series of kaossilator pads, giving him incredibly tactile control over the sonic landscapes he creates and enabling him to sculpt each element of the arrangement until they perfectly interweave, drawing you deeper into his world. Loud and incredibly dynamic, the set created the perfect test of the EYOE soundsystem (which was more than capable) and coupled with the striking visuals from Hopkins’ music videos, it was a truly visceral performance.
Metronomy rose to the challenge of main stage headlining with ease. Any previous doubts over their ability to play such large crowds were quickly put to bed as the band slickly powered through a career spanning set. Mount’s fragile vocals felt confident and assured while keyboard extraordinaire even took a turn at playing frontman, charmingly singing a cover of ‘Naked Smile’ and dividing up the crowd for a series of cheers. Playing in front of a backdrop made up of Love Letters artwork-inspired pink clouds and under a huge disco mirrorball, the band looked every bit the part in their coordinated white suits. Their slick performance was finished off with a manic rendition of ‘You Could Easily Have Me’ from Mount’s solo Metronomy debut album Pip Paine (Pay Back The £5000 You Owe), bringing the crowd up to fever pitch and finishing the first day on a total high.
West London’s slack jawed troubadour-cum-MC provided the perfect hazy soundtrack to begin our day, playing an early afternoon slot in the Shacklewell Arms tent to an eager crowd. Playing with his live band, Real’s affiliations with Childhood became quickly apparent through shimmering modulated guitars and shoegaze drumming. Stand out tracks ‘Cadillac Girl, Get It On’ and ‘Backseat Kissers’ were drawn out with extended bridges and crowd singalongs while Real busted out his finest moves on stage.
Words by Henry Evans Harding
We've always had pretty high expectations for Sky Ferreira. Her debut album Night Time, My Time admittedly has moments of brilliance, but following the drug scandals that made the headlines earlier this year, we've been rooting for her to silence her haters with strong live performances. Although she has a strong catalogue of songs to work with, to say Ferreira's shows have a reputation for more often than not being a bit lacking would be generous. Sporting an enormous coat despite the scorching hot sun, and unexplained soaking wet hair, Sky's set generally was rather lacklustre, with her and her band alike very much seeming like they'd rather be somewhere other than a sunny Victoria Park – other than quietly mumbling a few "thank you’s’’ between songs, there was little in the way of audience engagement. Maybe it's just time for us to finally give up hope on Sky's live act and just stick to the recorded version.
Assuming they never emerged from under the shadow of nu-goth darkness, to see The Horrors playing in the blazing midday sun was a little unsettling and uncommon – however, despite the fact their black skinny jean clad legs must've been ridiculously sweaty, the psychedelic goths gave Field Day punters a memorable performance – especially when Faris thanked the crowd for being there and followed by proclaiming ‘’though there isn’t much competition at the moment.’’ Highlights included a rendition of ‘Sea Within a Sea’ that was undeniably fantastic and though clocking in at atleast 8 minutes long, it remained absorbing throughout, proving how far they've developed as both songwriters and performers since the days of their debut album. With a pretty relaxed set, however, it may have been nice to have had our favourite princes of darkness play closer to sunset as the combination of goth rock and sunstroke made for a bit of a strange contrast.
For a festival mostly showcasing newer (and younger) bands, it was a bit of a plot twist to see The Pixies headlining Day 2 of Field Day, but I suppose once bank balances begin to dwindle, and hairlines go past the point of receding to just being bald, you've gotta take what you're offered (sorry to be so cynical). With a mass of middle aged punters emerging once the band took to the stage, The Pixies proved that despite saying absolutely nothing between songs, their back catalogue and newer tracks have the power to keep an audience entertained, and ‘Here Comes Your Man’ can get an entire field of festival goers singing along.
Words by Victoria Parkey