Field Day @ Victoria Park, London 25.05.13

Bank holiday weekend in central London: the sun is shining, queues aren’t particularly long and everywhere you look people seem happy… Something here feels wrong. Very wrong.

May 25th, 2013 at Victoria Park, London / By Matthew Bayfield
Disclosure But this is Field Day, where standard procedure tends not to apply and nestled alongside the seven stages and tents, all providing a diverse blend of bands, DJs and cutting edge electronic acts, there were a myriad of stalls and quirky side shows for the intrepid festival explorer to get involved with. Indeed it may be the only event of the impending summer where you could happily spend some time listening to the laidback folk of James Yorkston before heading to a back to back grime set from Lil Silva & Mele, with a brief pit stop in between to have a tug of war with some vegans… You might even clock a brass band marching about playing Britney Spears tunes and doing birthday shout outs.

Now in its 7th year, and judging by this year’s busy crowd, Field Day certainly seemed to have the balance between all its seemingly disparate elements nailed down. For every team of trendy Shoreditch hipsters with prerequisite fifties undercuts and “thrift store” shirts there was at least one pair of middle aged parents in Craghopper fleeces with a baby (presumably named something like Orinoco) in a rucksack looking for organic festival food.

From visceral post-punk darlings of the moment Savages to names like Seth Troxler, currently dominating London’s underground dance scene, all social groups were definitely well catered for musically, and on a dietary level it seemed there would probably be enough hummus to go ‘round. If there was any complaint at all with regards to both line up and side shows it was attempting to fit it all in in a single day.

The carnival vibe of the event was well maintained throughout: the Desperado’s Factory was set up to resemble something like a giant kaleidoscope and sets by the like of Todd Edwards & Rinse FM’s Oneman were only ever going to be made more entertaining by the application of 360 degree mirrored walls and complimentary drink upon entry. Elsewhere haiku poetry could be found hanging from various trees within the grounds and masses of brightly coloured balloons were released as the sun set during Four Tet’s main stage performance.

The main stage however was the only real flaw of the day. Having just come from the Bugged Out tent, which was literally packed to capacity and dripping with sweat after a blistering performance from Disclosure (who, like it or not, can probably already lay claim to the must-see act of the summer), the open top main area felt a little too spacious and laidback for the closing headliners. Due possibly to the complex layers in their arrangements, the main stage system left a lot of the more intricate work of Animal Collective sounding a little too much like a wall of noise, which sadly negated their overall impact. It just never felt like the (usually spectacular) group really took off. Luckily a short trot back to the Bugged Out tent (which by now was truly at fever pitch) resulted in catching the end of TNGHT’s set, whose mixture of their own bombastic productions and equally ridiculous hip-hop anthems brought Bearded’s Field Day to a fittingly colourful, madcap close.

Field Day has always occupied a very strange and potentially awkward niche in London’s summer festival calendar but this year it felt as if they really did manage to hit their stride between cutting edge and quirky in terms of performers and vibe. If the stage setup can achieve the same balance next year it will without doubt have cemented its position as one of London’s most unique summer events for a long time to come.