Field Day Review, 'The First Big Weekend'
The decision to move Field Day to a single day event undeniably had the potential to alienate indie, and straight-up guitar music fans. And, with day events like Sunfall and Found proving more adept at catering to the electronic heads, Field Day had pretty much one option - go big, or go home.
For the former the perceived lack of festival filling indie-acts was surely mitigated by the sheer quality of artists booked in such a nebulous category. That the likes of Andy Shauf were opening stages, just past midday, is a testament to such a booking policy.
For the latter, Field Day could easily summon up just two words, Aphex Twin. To begin at the end, Richard David James' Junglist turned Drum & Bass turned Undistinguishable set was nothing short of brilliance. Matched by an extraordinary light show and culminating in 20 minutes of what can only be described as noise, it was a truly challenging and hardcore sensory overload. You wanted Aphex Twin, you got it. But, Field Day had to do more than that, especially for fans of electronic music that can't be described as an audio assault.
It’s rather a festival staple to see Midland around 2pm. On the face of it, it makes little sense. With one of house music’s most in-demand producers and DJ lined up for what’s in all a pretty modest slot, this time at the BUGGEDout! & Fact stage. Of course there is good reasoning behind this. With ease Midland got an increasingly sizeable crowd going, fuelled only by the first pint or two. His trance and disco-infected, bouncing set was greatly received both by attendees on the peripheries of the tent and those head-down at the front - dance lubrication maybe, but essential nonetheless.
While acts like Midland set the tone, Flamingods felt like a slightly unhinged wedding day celebration, with brilliantly rhythmic psychedelica building and releasing perfectly timed chaos. Meanwhile, our first venture into the Barn felt like a different kind of bedlam. Moderat, were quick to illustrate the immediacy of live Techno, utilising the nose quivering all-encompassing, fucking loudness of the sound rig, located in what is an impressive architectural achievement.
Meanwhile, the Resident Advisor stage proved to be excellent grounds for the curation of more cutting edge artists such as Flying Lotus and Forest Swords. Crucially across all the stages, all the artists we saw, sounded great. An intense ear-for-detail for bands and DJ's alike that sound just as good, if not better live, then on wax is what makes Field Day such a forerunner in the festival scene, despite its now mainstream status.
It’s probably a little sad to say, that although people come to Field Day for this awe-inspiring music, its the organisation that creates such an influx of returnees. No fucking drinks tokens, a minority of sound issues, acts actually performing when they’re meant to, one-off vinyl, good street food (not just food that's on a van in the street). It’s almost as if it was planned strategically, or something.
Though Field Day will get the plaudits for booking exclusive acts like Aphex Twin, another A - Arab Strap were arguably as equally a brilliant manoeuvre from the team. Despite some minor issues with sound quality early on, Moffat and co. blasted through a hit-packed set including the likes of ‘New Birds’, and obviously ‘The First Big Weekend’, a perfectly apt metaphor for Field Day itself.
Once a cult classic, now an anthem, a slowly building wave of ecstasy and thudding drum machines symbolise that the first big weekend, almost always ends up being the best.