Field Day 2013 festival review

'Stronger than ever'

Photographer: Andy SquireDaniel Pratley on 26 May 2013

Seven years in and Field Day is stronger than ever. Boasting an eclectic and progressive line-up that showcases the latest musical trends, it's a day in a field that those Shoreditch tankers just can’t resist. And why not? It’s a festival protesting against musical sanitisation, with a confidence to labour the hyperbole (Solange) whilst still recognising those acts that slowly plough their wares to critical acclaim (Animal Collective).

Located in East London's natty Victoria Park, in the not so natty surrounds of Hackney; Field Day wields some impressive credentials. Eight stages, dozens of acts, a plethora of food stalls and one big tug of war (Vegetarians vs. Carnivores) all condensed into 12 greedy hours. It's a tall order, a monumental task, and although we're obviously willing to sacrifice the odd ‘band clash’ we can’t help thinking spreading the smorgasbord over two, or possibly three days, would have been more welcome.

MT Warning (8/10) are first to grace the Eat Your Own Ears stage, and while they may not look like Midnight Oil they have that unmistakable Australian stench. They greet us with the smarmy "has summer just begun in London or what?", that same shit question we’ve been asking ourselves for months, but when prompted by these sun blessed bogans who’ve just touched down from Wagga Wagga, it hurts a little more than normal. Although they could be more sensitive to our weather woes, their music finds a more stable home. ‘Burn Again Still’ and ‘Forward Miles’ sound epic, solid and cinematic in scope, both massive reasons to check these MT Warning out.

One little lad’s stage banter has always been a bit ‘suss’, and whilst he’s been trading for over four decades Tim Burgess (7/10) never fails to raise a few nicely groomed eyebrows. A slightly less preened version than recent incarnations takes the stage at the Village. Burgess still looks odd, still shuffles and rambles incoherently between tracks, but today he beams a sweetness over his solo material that brings out our paternal side. Mark Collins provides the Charlatans backing and although we don’t get any Charlie reworkings we do get a magical version of ‘Oh My Corazon’, undoubtedly his best solo efforts.

An old dog (Burgess is 45 - but still looks pubescent), could learn a few tricks from Gabriel Bruce (7/10). His 80’s apocalyptic sermon, set to the swagger of INXS, is a religious experience. At points the theatrics detract from the tunes, however, on the whole Bruce delivers a powerful display of pomp and charisma. ‘Greedy Little Heart’ is the clear highlight, a power ballad for the wedding dance floor, complete with Bruce’s iconic dance moves, it’s a spectacle that brings grimaces and smiles in equal quantities; grimiles.

Another ‘artist’ drenched in charisma is Solange (6/10). Solange Piaget Knowles (an unfortunate middle name), younger sister to Beyonce, who has been writing tracks with our lad Dev Hynes has just landed on our shores to plague us with her emaciated RnB. Probably one of the most eagerly anticipated sets of the day, Solange’s flimsy feted pop goes down well with Field Day, but perhaps inevitably lacks some clout. The polished and bullish performance is an unquestionable spectacle, but she’ll need to do more to convince us that she’s little more than just a novelty.

Which is just what Everything Everything (8/10) have proven. Their brand of heavily syncopated pop debuted on ‘Man Alive’ has been consolidated in latest long player ‘ARC’. Now brandishing ballads amongst the vocal theatrics, the Manchester lads bring a much wider arsenal to their live set. ‘Duet’ their most commercial offering yet sits comfortably amongst the more abstract crop of ‘Kemosabe’ and ‘Cough Cough’. Their set is tight and buoyant and confirms their rising position amongst Britain’s finest eccentric bands.

Topping off the Laneway stage is the meaty pop beats of Django Django (7/10). If you thought a band couldn’t look more Scottish than Franz, check these pallid bobbing boys out. The perpetual brilliance of their debut album is diminished somewhat by Neff’s transient vocals, which struggle with the top range on a few of the songs, but ultimately it’s a celebration of an amazingly satisfying and accomplished album. ‘Hail to the Bop’ and ‘Silver Rays’ bookend a performance with more electronic blips and beeps than a trip to Tesco Express.

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