Field Day 2007

London's first ever 'psychedelic festival' trips over itself

Field Day 2007

Photographer: Peter CorkhillThilini Gunaratna on 15 August 2007

A queue for an hour in the sunshine, to collect tickets and get inside the enclosure does little to deter my enthusiasm for London’s first psychedelic fete.  Those familiar with Adventures in the Beetroot Field, Lock Tavern or the brilliantly named Eat Your Own Ears, will already know that they are certainly no strangers to putting on terrific nights.  The line-up for today’s event leaves Field Day goers feeling like golden ticket holders.  Indeed the touts are only touting to buy tickets, such is demand to be trapped in a park with the likes of Justice, Liars and Battles

Having located a programme, the first of a series of disappointments begin.  Having realised that we missed the entirety of Fanfarlo’s set due to queuing to enter the venue, we quickly discover that some bands have measly stage times. Florence and the Machine for instance, have only been granted a 20 minute slot.  There is no information at all on the bandstand, so we keep our ears to the ground for rumours of when Lightspeed Champion may appear there.  Planning the day ahead is met with further difficulties, as all the sets seem to run into each other. The times printed in the programme show that most acts ran on successively without any sort of break, so where one band ends another begins on the same stage, like a relay race. This inability to print information on turnaround times means that some of the shorter sets are bypassed completely by accident.

After a stalled start, we settle just outside the Adventures in the Beetroot Field Tent and manage to hear some GoodBooks.  'Passchendaele' and 'Leni' are good ambassadors for the band's sensitive story-telling and honeysuckle sweet indie melodies. Over on the other side of the park is the Bloggers Tent, which is the smallest tent by far, something of a micro disco, if you will. For some inexplicable reason, this tent is shut in the middle of the afternoon, resembling nothing more than a wendy house for fluorescent kids. Sitting outside in the brilliant sunshine we overhear Mac 3000 spinning some heavy duty remixes, including a reworking of Dizzee Rascal’s 'Old Skool' that sends a hoard of youngsters powering toward the tent, nodding along.

A quick blast of electronic feedback reminds us that 1990s are about to play.  The Glaswegian trio command us to the Eat Your Own Ears stage and rip through songs from their debut Cookies. They power up the crowd with, 'See You At The Lights', 'You’re Supposed to Be My Friend' and 'You Made Me Like It', all of which are much needed pop injections direct to the cranium. Word reaches us that Lightspeed Champion are about to play on the bandstand in some extreme acoustic surroundings. With only the tinyest amp known to man, former Test Icicle, Dev, belts out the songs and the babbling crowd are quickly silenced. It's a wonderful snapshot moment from the day, everyone huddled close together under a canopy of trees listening intently to renditions of 'Galaxy of The Lost' and 'Mr. Fisk' with some good old Weezer covers thrown in for good measure.

Tucked in the back corner of the park, next to the dance tent, is the psychedelic fete.  A welly- throwing stall, sadly without any participants, an impressive bric-a-brac tombola, a tug-of-war and a tea and cake stall that’s already low on supplies by mid-afternoon. It’s a similar situation with alcohol. Many tales are making Chinese whisper waves that they have run out of wine. With these rumours rife, the beer tent tensions are high. Beer is now valued as a precious commodity and the average wait on a pint takes around 45 minutes, with similar mammoth queues for the toilets. With no way off the site as the no re-entry policy kicks into action, people are literally trapped.  One tenable alternative is just to not drink of course, therefore needing the loo less and not wasting hours missing all the music. 

By late afternoon, the dance tent is literally heaving, bursting at the seams by the time Chromeo unleashes his 'Fancy Footwork'. Meanwhile, a little later on, on the Eat Your Own Ears stage, Foals are the first casualties of sound levels. 'Cassius', 'Hummer' and 'Matheletics' sound only half as good due to the muted sound levels. Battles suffer a similar fate and later admit that they couldn’t actually hear themselves on stage. Math rock or puzzle-pop, it’s just simply too quiet to decipher the intricate afro beat that propels along stunners like 'Atlas' and 'Tras'. Elsewhere, rock’n’rollers Archie Bronson Outfit are shutdown guerrilla style as the power is cut because they dared play a little louder than they were perhaps allowed to. Erol Alkan who should probably be awarded man of the festival, not only for brining the dance tent to its knees, quite literally, but for also not failing to disappoint in Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve.

The MySpace stage is a pleasant surprise, not only is it the perfect meeting point, but the routemaster acted as a partybus, as Justice and Erol Alkan played secret sets on it through the day. As the evening approaches, Bat For Lashes, weaves and  spins her tales of mystery from her Mercury Nominated debut album, Fur and Gold.  'What’s a Girl To Do' and 'Trophy' soothe everyone well into the twilight with hand-claps and harmonium twinkling through the trees. Late Of The Pier terrorise the Adventures in the Beetroot Field tent, with their warped visions you don’t know whether to wheeze in disbelief, admiration or fear.  'Bathroom Gurgle' is a puzzle placed between the Time Warp and Gary Numan.  The trashy punk quartet swat out the deep and shifty beats until everyone’s minds bend together to the fusion of glam, trash and disco.

Liars are late, but it’s Liars so no one really cares what time they come on. As soon as they launch into 'Plaster Casts of Evil' we’re begging them for permanent residency. Angus resplendent in a white suit stands statuesque on stage but the sound lets them down again, as the angry beats of Four Tet filtrate the silences in between songs. Strangely enough, at the same time Justice are struggling with sound problems of their own. At times you can hear Liars over the top! Despite the murky sound levels, Justice valiantly belt out 'D.A.N.C.E' and end with 'We Are Your Friends'. Groups form as people try to decide which of the two afterparties to go to.  Those not familiar with London, try to decipher the most cryptic of clues as they struggle to pinpoint a location for the mysterious venues. 

The inaugural event was bound to suffer the odd glitch but there were too many at Field Day. Such disorganisation on a vast scale was not anticipated by the public - and these days you just expect better.  All that went wrong this time, though, can easily be rectified in time for the next one, ensuring that Field Day mark two is everything we dreamed Field Day mark one to be, and hopefully more. 

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