The sun is shining, the gates are open and Field Day is upon us once again – there are times when to be young and in London can be very heavenly indeed.
Saturday opens in blue skies and new music, with Spector entertaining on the main stage. An act who often drape themselves in irony and allusion, the group truly come into their own when playing live, able to simply act as a band. Sadly, the muffled sound decreases the impact somewhat – an act perhaps better assigned to a tent or an arena, rather than the unforgiving climate of mid-afternoon on the main stage.
SOPHIE represents part of a wave of PC Music devotees dotted around the bill. The weekend would see DJ sets from AG Cook and Danny L Harle, but perhaps the most prominent performance came from SOPHIE, alongside a brief cameo from QT.
Developing a vivid, instantly recognisable style, it's remarkable just show shattering, immediately enticing SOPHIE's performance is. All new romantic mane and post-ironic superstar DJ posing, the un-set – tracks aren't mixed, merely sluiced through noise – is a nerve-jangling, patience-pricking affair. Backed with surgery-led visuals which seem to prove every orifice, it's a set which utterly refuses to be ignored.
That said, the joke only goes so far. QT's emergence provides the set with a rare moment of unison, but while 'Hey QT' is an undeniable pop banger you can't help that feel as though something is amiss. Clash is suddenly surrounded by festival bro's, deliriously intoning the song's lyrics and aping what they clearly believe to be homosexual poses. Not that PC Music can be blamed for this, of course, it's simply a sign that irony only truly works when everyone's aware of what the joke actually is – and who it's on.
Floating Points delivers a typically sumptuous set, with his jazz-tinged percussive rollouts just right for a summer's afternoon. LA Priest plays a solo show at the Shacklewell Arms tent, with the one time Late Of The Pier frontman delving deep into the sinews of the imagination. Minor sound issues aside, it's clear that Sam Dust is about to deliver a very, very special album.
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Run The Jewels is, by now, a highly polished live machine. Killer Mike and El-P make an incredible return to London, breezing through an hour of straight up hip hop without every looking back. Quickly passing by the iD Arena, Future Brown invite a plethora of grime MCs onstage – the production quartet are pushed firmly into the background, with the likes of Riko Dan asserting that this is, after all, a London thing.
John Talabot's lengthy, engrossing deep house set is like an inviting bubblebath after a sweaty afternoon, with the producer packing out the Bugged Out tent for a dexterous electronic workout. Django Django deliver the goods on the Main Stage, before finally giving way to Caribou.
It's been a long journey for Dan Snaith, who has performed at Field Day under a number of guises over the years. Clearly enjoying every minute of his headline slot, the producer guides Caribou through a powerful set honed on their recent sell out tour. A wonderful performance though it may be, weak sound hampered its impact somewhat. More than worthy headliners, but the edge was left a little dulled.
After the glorious sunshine and musical treats of Saturday, organisers could be forgiven for thinking that their luck couldn't hold. Remarkably, the second day of Field Day opens with even better weather than the first – blues skies extend across East London, like the underside of an azure glass placed over the E postcodes.
DIIV clearly warm to the crowd, the shoegaze types making their return after numerous personal issues. A set dominated by new material, the New Yorkers do little in the way of talking, but do throw in the odd fan favourite along the way.
With the atmosphere becoming more and more relaxed as the temperature soars ever upward, the occasion quite clearly called for a bit of Mac DeMarco. Thankfully the Canadian songwriter was on hand, clearly revelling in the debauchery of a Sunday afternoon. Joking with the crowd, the band threw in a few cover versions including a rendition of 'Blackbird' which matched Sir Paul McCartney against, erm, Slayer. Perhaps something was lost in translation.
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Patti Smith's set was, of course, something that thousands evidently believed they simply had to be there for. Performing debut album 'Horses', this was a performance which seemed to tap into something unearthly, something primeval – beyond genre, style or any other boundary, Smith seemed to open up to pure creativity. At times deeply moving, at others wry and humorous, the power of Patti Smith's set was matched by the patient stillness of the crowd. Eager to simply let the singer do her thing, she responded with a set of purpose and vitality.
Closing with a number of her best known tracks, the group rattle through a version of 'My Generation' which illicit the righteous scream of 'I DON'T NEED THIS FUCKING SHIT' – truly, a more powerful, humble and humane artist has yet to stalk the fields of Victoria Park.
Following a set of such incredible intensity was never going to be easy, so thankfully organisers allowed Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve – Richard Norris and Erol Alkan in their psych guise – space to let loose. Picking out lysergic gems and throwing a heap of effects for good measure, the producers seem to be having the time of their lives, fading out of Patti Smith's artrock gomorrah and easing into Ride's shoegaze heaven.
Playing their first show in over two decades in Oxford recently, Ride are only a few performances into their much-vaunted re-union. However any first night jitters have long since been eased away, with the shoegaze legends turning back the clock for a set which seems to rejoice in pure sound. 'Leave Them All Behind' is the perfect opener, with the band's two-pronged guitar attack taking them into stadium territory. The bombast is effectively trimmed, though, with Ride bathing the audience in effects, the white light of their visual display matching the beached out, feedback-drenched tones.
Early cuts such as 'Seagull' and 'Drive Blind' adhere to their noise roots, but at other moments Ride remind you exactly why they were able to achieve such enormous success – they wrote bloody good, deeply English pop songs. Ending in light and chaos, it's a satisfactory end to a weekend which exemplifies which Field Day is continually held up as one of the best inner city festivals in Europe.
Photo Credit: Carolina Faruolo