Thursday, 4 June 2009

Field Day 2009 - London

On the morning of Sat 1 August, London’s weather forecast was disappointing, yet nothing short of predictable. At this point, the prospect of a meteorological blunder was the only ‘ray’ of hope on offer for London’s Field Day punters. Unfortunately, BBC weather was spot on: cloudy patches then light rain at 4pm, promptly proceeded by heavy showers, three hours later. The only solace was the stellar line-up that was awaiting our heavy hearts; situated in E8’s Victoria Park. As the distance between us and the gated-musical haven decreased the demographic changed accordingly; mothers with prams were swapped for festival clans; adorned in ponchos, sunnies and boots. These like-minded revelers and their uninhibited enthusiasm helped keep the rain at bay.

By 4 o’clock Aussies, The Temper Trap were playing on an open-air stage, their sound was well and truly polished since their earlier gigs in 2008; however, the poplicious, soft rock numbers from their 2009 debut ‘Sweet Disposition’, seemed to leave less of a sweet and more of a sour taste for the indie listeners. However, credit should be given to the boys for holding their own, as the heavens let loose on the Field Day fun.

As the rain persisted, festival dwellers hid by packing into one of the many striped circus-like tents. In the Bugged Out! tent individuals waiting for Little Boots as they blurred into a sea of moving bodies, enticed by the deep minimal sounds of the Bugged Out! DJ.

Finally the British singer, Little Boots, tottered on stage like an 80's drag queen, whose glitter-doused Christian Louboutins; instantly recognizable by their fiery red soles, boosted the electro-pop princess’ minute stature. She got the crowd swaying with party favourites ‘Meddle’ and ‘Remedy’ and managed to croon her way through her debut album 'Hands', before saving the best for last, in the form of 'Stuck On Repeat' . Once off stage she quickly swapped her ‘sky-high persona’ for a one tad more festival appropriate; a pair of ‘little boots’.

By seven o’clock it was time for Santigold on the outdoor Eat Your Own Ears stage; situated at the farthest point of the festival. The smell of weed and rain intersected our nostrils as Santigold, dressed in green, belted out ‘Brooklyn We Go Hard’; substituting Brooklyn with London, exciting the crowd with ‘Say Aha’ and ‘Unstoppable’, while her air lassos seemed to ward off the rain. The hip-hop songstress surprised the crowd with a decidedly good cover of the Cure’s ‘Killing An Arab’ before bringing four fans on stage to join her in full body shakes et al. before closing the energetic and invigorating show with ‘Creator’. Although the skies had opened, there is no doubt that ‘rain-drenched’ music lovers were more than willing to forgo any attempt at ‘wringing out’ in order to witness this zeal-fueled spectacle, by the artist formerly known as Santogold.

After such a banging hour and a half, Scottish post-rock headliners Mogwai seemed the perfect antidote. The quiet-loud instrumental band were mournful and plaintive as they performed tunes off their 2008 ‘The Hawk Is Howling’ to their earlier ‘Rock Action’, while creating more than adequate grandeur with the consistent melodic subtlety of their songs. While some veterans complained of a slight regression by the band, their progressively genuine sound was enough to win over many new recruits. Although the band said very little, they did dedicate a tune to Errors’ drummer, Bobby Robson, for his assistance.

Mogwai are one band that can tame a British crowd without a single utterance. There was of course that one over-zealous fan, whose crass statement ‘I wanna f**k you’, only further highlighted the effect these quiet legends have on their listeners. However, it was not only the crowd that was under the band’s spell; mesmerised by the music, security were slow to stop a shadowy figure who made his way on stage. As the bass trembled and the ground vibrated beneath us, Mogwai were the perfect headliners; allowing attendees to gain festival closure in the form of an almost tranquil state. ‘Helicon 1’ and ‘Satan’ are something to behold live. For Field Day 2009, as the day turned into night; the rain may have fell and the night may have - eventually- beckoned, but the music, the music kept on playing.

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I am more than prone to monologues; however, this is solely due to the manner in which they compliment a witty anecdote and their ability to resemble concrete evidence when it is so obviously lacking. I often wish I could emulate that aloof character who coolly stands in the corner smiling mysteriously as if she has a secret. However, I fear resisting the temptation to involve myself in other people’s conflicts and responding through body language rather than verbose banter may come across as contrived and arrogant. And, I am not willing to take that chance.

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