Festivals

Field Day -- Victoria Park, Saturday August 11

Michael Bonner

This week's new festival is, in the words of promoter Tom Baker (no, not that one), a "psychedelic Summer fete".

So, we're promised welly golf, hog roasts, a jumble sale along side some Acid Folk in the shape of Vetiver and Bat For Lashes, plus a strong mix of cutting-edge names including Battles, the Aliens and Four Tet.

All of which is highly commendable, but it doesn't stop the snaking, seemingly endless lines for both the ladies toilet and the bar resembling queues for bread in post-World War 1 Russia. At one point, I hear worrying reports that the waiting time for the ladies is over an hour. Checking the Field Day MySpace page this morning, it seems a lot of people are understandably annoyed with the lack of facilities.

Toilets aside, I've got to say Field Day makes a change from the last time I was here at Victoria Park, for the generally underwhelming Lovebox festival. Here, without the pressure of delivering a marquee name headliner, there's a really relaxed, informal vibe, much blurring of lines as the likes of The Grid's Richard Norris DJs psych sets on the main stage between bands, and people happily come away from watching post-rockers Fridge to whoop it up to Erol Alkan's storming house set in the Bugged Out! tent.

I bump into Scouse Andy, a friend of mine who's also been DJing between bands on the main stage, who tells me how a chap from the council was monitoring the sound levels while he was playing to make sure he wasn't too loud. The volume definitely increases as the afternoon wears on -- dancing in the Bugged Out! tent, while Erol Alkan plays New Order's "Blue Monday" in tribute to the late Tony Wilson, there could be an airstrike on Tower Hamlets and you wouldn't hear it.

After Alkan, we get Andrew Weatherall, dressed in what looks like a Sapper's uniform from WW2. I haven't heard Weatherall DJ for about 5 years, but I remember always being curious about what he's going to play. He's brilliant at moving through and round genres -- variously, I've heard him play out dark techno, minimal electro, deep house and dubstep, often all in the same set. He always operates just below the radar, and is tellingly perhaps the only old school Acid House DJ to still retain his credibility. As it is, today (or tonight, as it's fast becoming) he cranks out a formidable set of deep techno and I suddenly remember why I used to love dance music, lo those many moons ago.

Band highlights include Fridge -- Kieren Hebden and Adem's spacey, post-rock side-project, making their first live appearance in 5 years -- and Archie Bronson Quartet, who kick up quite a fearsome, garage-y racket, despite their set being cut short due to power problems. And I head off home just as Justice whip up a heart-stopping version of "We Are Your Friends" cut into Klaxons' "From Atlantis To Interzone".

Moving on from the toilet issues, a fine new festival to mark on the calender.


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