Field Day 2014 Sunday review

'A festival still breaking the trends'

Photographer: Stuart LeechChris Swindells on 09 June 2014

East London's annual hipster circus drove back into town this weekend, setting up shop in the sun-kissed surrounds of Hackney's Victoria Park. Newly expanded, the two-day affair was awash with the latest hairstyles, threads and footwear - there was some live music too.

Always trying to lead rather than follow the fashion, Field Day was fittingly a mix of the two hottest emerging genres right now: psych-rock and ambient electronica. From Telegram to Childhood, SOHN to SBTRKT; it delivered in the guitar and electronic sense with great aplomb, even giving each day a slightly tailored musical taste.

Somewhere between a pierrot clown and a spaceman, Pond (9) frontman Nick Allbrook appears in silvery facial attire, slightly dazed from a flight and travel in a 'sardine can'. POND's stellar psych-rock musings are riding an alternative current of populism and send East London to the outer galaxies. Perfect then for the sunny Sunday afternoon, and those still recovering from the festival after-parties the night previous.

Dialling the outer headfuck ideas down a notch or ten, Temples (7) have a bigger main stage crowd and harmonise the older crowd, with Pixies hoodies wrapped around their waists, with the new musical zeitgeist. Get psyched dad! An elongated version of 'Mesmerise' to close is the perfect farewell from a band rightfully enjoying the riches of what is one of the strongest debut albums of the year.


Reflecting upon Drenge's (5) set next, just hours before Pixies take to the Main Stage, is like reviewing your side salad against a 16 ounce ribeye steak. No contest. They're noisy sure, primal at times, but tempo is little replacement for substance. Loud no substitute for quiet and whilst the final third rouse a greater response, it's still a little wanting from a music duo with a reputation for incendiary live shows.

Fifteen minutes of Letterman shaped fame for Future Islands (8) is enough to have festival security crowding the Shacklewell Arms tent, ushering the crowds away with 'Tent Full' signs. Inside, those gathered here, some old fans and a lot of curious rubberneckers, are throwing shapes you'll unlikely see all weekend. There's cheers everytime Future Islands' Samuel T. Herring lets out a growl or spins his body in wild peacock moves, particularly for their latest singles 'Seasons (Waiting On You)' and 'Spirit'.


Pixies (9) follow, arriving around sunset with a 'Wave of Mutilation', and leave us 80 minutes later wondering 'Where Is My Mind?'. Through the second phase of their reunion, with new material and a new bassist behind them, they've always promised never to stray from the greatest hits, to deliver a career retrospective with the new 'Indie Cindy' numbers seamlessly slipped in. For the Field Day crowd they do exactly that, making 'U-Mass' an education for the uninitiated and reminding everyone why 'Hey' is a perfectly warped pop number on the matters of sordid sex. Field Day doesn't typically do sing-a-long but for one minute, as the surf-rock joy of 'Here Comes Your Man' washes over Victoria Park, those hipsters forget themselves and come together for one more timeless chorus rendition.


Where 'Doolittle' takes much of the limelight, Pixies - looking slightly exhausted from the touring schedule - are clearly keen to please everyone and try to mix new, classic and rarity in equal measure. Even four classic cuts from their 1987 debut 'Come On Pilgrim' make the final list and whilst many fans here weren't born then, there's clearly a loyal base of newcomers, versed in every word.

Field Day 2014 will be filed under success. A weekend that went against the forecast and welcomed a blissfully warm and pleasant weekend of weather to accompany a typically eclectic line-up that pulled together some unforgettable performances. Whether organisers opt for a two day approach in 2015 is yet to be seen. Neither day sold out and Sunday was notably quieter than Saturday but if the economics work out then this could be the making of a new era of Field Day, the graduation to big school for a festival still working hard on breaking the trends.

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