Running into its 10th year Field Day shows no signs of slowing down. Quite the opposite. From the moment you entered Victoria Park you felt like you were accelerating until all that was left of your disintegrated shell was a collection of bleeps. More on this later.
It looked like half of London had managed to crawl out from under their rocks in a strong and united display of delightful weirdness only matched in diversity by the genre-spanning music. Being the organised raver I am I had managed to download Revl the night before and had the entire day planned out…not that I would be able to catch even half the acts I wanted to see but at least I felt organised in the chaos that would ensue.
By the time I arrived at the Bugged Out / FACT tent Tom Demac had already played the role of pied piper and the tent was sizzling. Midland was throwing down a sultry mix of house and disco to a tent full of people who knew what was good for them. A perfect way to ease into the glorious Summer day.
Wondering through the field to get my bearings I decided to see what was on show. The Blue Tit crew, East London’s raw and luxurious hairdressing brand, were ensnaring the glitterati. Even my barnet ended up a deep purple hue interspersed with shining silver and got rolling compliments all through the day. Who could resist the adrenaline rush of the rocket trip ride, upside down and high above the festival? A sight to see and not one I will be forgetting anytime soon (city skyline backdrop with colourful ants everywhere). Jokers and drunkards alike were taking part in the infamous festilympics. Everything from the simple sac race to sextuplets in tents were being played. Never have I seen a girl put away watermelon, cucumbers and candy floss at such a hilarious rate during the eating contest. Not even Dominoes being shared by mates in synced hangover would disappear that quickly.
Bearings sorted I decided to see The Barn that had been building up ridic hype in the prelude. Although only a sliver of people were inside at this stage of the day Dekmantel Soundsystem were filling it with spaced out synths which echoed and reverberated all over the enormous cavernous space like a wild beast unable to escape its cage. The void was as long as a football pitch and breath-taking as a cathedral taking everyone who entered a moment to wonder in its vastness. Unlike anything I’ve seen on the festival circuit, it is certainly something I hope to see more of in the future. Pioneering and unabashed just like the festival itself.
Coming out The Barn one couldn’t miss the Bleep bandstand. A crowd surrounded the 360 degree, outdoor structure and were moving best they could to the syncopated, distorted rhythms of Hyperdub/Night Slug mainstay Ikonika. One of the best female electronic artists pushing the boundaries of sound. Tough in the best way possible. Similarly…at the nearby Moth Club, Warp Records star Gaika was about to come on. In 5 minutes the tent went from practically empty to ravenously full which is not surprising considering his presence on the scene. Through a wisp of smoke, he exploded on stage to a backdrop of dancehall-infused/grime instrumentals, a raw and unapologetic voice for the unheard.
I managed to catch the futuristic workhorse that is Machinedrum after his set in the RA tent and got up-to-date with all his projects (Sepalcure, JETS, Dream Continuum) amongst other things which you can read more of here. This was followed straight after by an interview with the bubbling Joe Goddard who has just released his second solo album ‘Electric Lines’ which you can read more of here. It was tough having to miss the incredible Âme and Moderat during this time but sometimes you just can’t catch them all. In fact, I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say the clashes this year were excruciating. C’est la vie.
Next on the menu was Fatima Yamaha. Phenomenal the first time I saw him at Oval Space. This time round I was on stage in the Bugged Out / FACT tent and watching in awe as he worked his machines hard producing all assortments of analogue sounds. Man’s neck was bouncing like no tomorrow as he delivered those basslines. Geeking out with a giant grin, he couldn’t have been enjoying himself more if he tried.
Like everyone else at the festival, I decided to hit The Barn for the Nina Kraviz/Aphex Twins close. Even though Nina was playing her signature robot sex/squelch magic we all know and love her for barely anyone was dancing when I arrived for the last 15 minutes of her set and the energy was severely lacklustre. She even told me herself afterwards that she had successfully played one of the worst sets ever. Her music suits more intimate spaces which The Barn is not. I’ve seen what she’s capable of in Fabric so I guess she was just having an off-day. And although there has never been a hype quite like that which surrounded Aphex Twin this year Richard D James just did not do it for me at all. The music is what I imagine a bad acid trip would sound like. So distorted and tough to listen to it goes from pushing the boundaries to falling off the edge into oblivion entirely. When my headache began to set in I left and hard-lined it back to the Bugged Out / FACT tent where the master selector Hunee was killing it big time. In complete contrast to The Barn the entire tent was vibing off the chart. Trigger fingers were fisting the air in unison and people were dancing left, right and centre like no-one was watching. People on shoulders were blowing in the wind to the rhythm of the night. Watching him control the crowd like putty in his decks and taking them on a journey for 2 hours straight was inspirational and needless to say he was my personal highlight of the entire festival. All hail Hunee!
11 hours of incredible programming by the Field Day team later I was gone. My brain fried into the infinite night sky. Assimilated into the sound, I had disappeared into all but a memory, ready for a rewind. A shell of reality only known to me and now to you. Hope you enjoyed the replay. Bleep bleep.