Field Day Festival, including Django Django, Afrocubism, Metronomy, SBTRKT, Franz Ferdinand : Victoria Park, Diamond Jubilee Weekend, Saturday 2nd June, 2012

Posted: June 13, 2012 in Alternative Music, Festival, Indie, World Music
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Field Day Festival, including Django Django, Afrocubism, Metronomy, SBTRKT, Franz Ferdinand : Victoria Park,  Diamond Jubilee Weekend, Saturday 2nd June, 2012

Franz Ferdinand headline Field Day festival, Saturday 2nd June, 2012

Franz Ferdinand headline Field Day festival, Saturday 2nd June, 2012

 

Field Day festival is a one day festival aimed mainly  at the younger indie /alternative rock  lover that has been going since 2007.  As well as bands, there are village fete type activities to enjoy. There are also plenty of areas with DJ playing various genres of dance music.

Last time I was there in 2009, I found it to be a small but quality festival with grade A music, organic food from a wide variety of stalls – none of the standard rubbish fodder you get at other festivals and pleasant in terms of limited crowd numbers that gave enough for an atmosphere but were manageable.  In the 3 years since,  the festival has obviously expanded and I wonder whether it has exceeded its original parameters.

Despite this being  my first festival of the summer, I wasn’t in a great mood having had to walk a good half mile from where we entered into Victoria Park to the entrance.  It’s a elongated site and a long walk around the perimeter. On the way to the entrance, we passed a throng of people, maybe numbering in the hundreds, queuing.  Then at the entrance there were further big queues, requiring a 15 minute wait and a heavy frisk down by Security before getting in. Upon arrival, and a little bit of orientation of the site by me and niece, we decided to head for the Village Mentality stage,  to see Django  Django ,one of the band’s marked out on my niece itinerary.  There was a ridiculous number of people in the area around the tent so we were clambering, tripping and pushing our through people. No space on the left hand side, a bit more on the right but we still could not get inside because of the numbers.  Never mind, we plonked ourselves instead by a shady tree and listened from outside while getting the odd glimpse of the band through a 1000 heads and multiple poles and guy ropes.

We get a glimpse of Django Django from outside the Village Mentality tent at the Field Day festival, June 2nd 2012, London

We get a glimpse of Django Django from outside the Village Mentality tent at the Field Day festival, June 2nd 2012, London

Django Django play a abstract kind of alternative electro. Tracks like “Waveform” conveyed more of a mood than a story, almost a feeling of communing with nature.  The light African style drums rhythms juxtaposed with the mysterious sounding synth chords of “Skies over Cairo” also impressed as did the electro-rootsy blues rhythm of “Firewater”. The type of music may an acquired taste to some but personally I enjoyed it and would enjoyed a whole lot more still if only I could have fully had sight of the band during the show.

Members of Afrocubism take the well deserved audience applause at Field Day festival, June 2nd 2012, Victoria Park, London

Members of Afrocubism take the well deserved audience applause at Field Day festival, June 2nd 2012, Victoria Park, London

 

After light refreshment and a rush to answer the call of nature (where standing at the urinal staring out at bloke dressed in penguin costume proved surreal), it was back to business as we finally managed to get in to a tent and get to the front for one of the main acts that we had specially come to see, namely the cubo-malian fusion that is Afrocubism.  This group is one part members of the Bueno Vista social club and one part  leading musicians of Mali, including Kora master Tourmani Diabete . This falls into what is generally categorised as World Music, but seems quite out of place with the orientation of this festival. Nonetheless this group proves to be brilliant. There is a cast of thousands on the stage with assorted instruments including 2 trumpets , 1 rhythm guitar, a bass,  maracas, double bass, conga drums, a West African stringed instrument called the ngoni (which was played with such virtuosity by Bassekou Kouyate,  it left me speechless), the balafon – a kind of West African glockenspiel and what looked like a Tama drum. Completing the line and looking very commanding in the centre of the stage was Eliades Ochoa with his standout Cowboy hat and Cubano tres guitar and vocalist Kassy Mady Diabate, who is music royality in West Africa being not only a musician but an oral historian through his music.  His joy and love of the music was infectious as he did not stop groving and smiling all the time he was on stage. For his part Eliades Ochoa was impressive vocally with  “Al Vaimen di Mi Carreta”  and other tunes like “Mali Cuba” blended perfectly the African and Cuban instruments into a feelgood almost holiday sound. You could just imagine yourself driving under a sunny blue sky in some pretty far flung corner of the globe with smiling happy children rushing out of villages to greet you. All the musicians were top quality including the two trumpeters who performed an excellent solo. With the audience indulging insome laid back dancing , this gig transported you mentally to a happy place.

Metronomy thrill at Field Day festival, Saturday 2nd June 2012, Victoria Park, London

Metronomy thrill at Field Day festival, Saturday 2nd June 2012, Victoria Park, London

 

Then, after a quick tour of the World food stands and settling on some kind of tasty Portuguese chicken stew in a quaint plastic dish , it was back to main stage area for a final hurrah to my favourite group of the moment Metronomy.  My niece and I have already seen this group at what was foe us the concert of 2011. So, could they top or at least equal it? Not quite but they came close and put in a cracking performance nonetheless.  I immensely enjoyed myself and bopped along happily to the sounds of “The Bay” , “Corinne” and “Loving Arm” despite being considerably jostled by the usual late arrivals trying to muscle in towards the front and the drunks. The band were enthusiastic and engaging with the audience. A number in the crowd got on the shoulders of other much to the chagrin of stewards who had obviously been overcome with the current zeal of health and safety. Third time I have seen the band in a year and third time they have put on a great show. Is this group capable of a bad live performance? I don’t think so.

SBTRKT in silhouette at Field Day festival, Saturday 2nd June, 2012, Victoria Park, London

SBTRKT in silhouette at Field Day festival, Saturday 2nd June, 2012, Victoria Park, London

Going into the evening the weather took a turn for the worse; cloud started bubbling over and then a chill in the air. We raced back to the tent to try to get in to see SBTRKT but no dice. The tent was absolutely jammed, leaving us in our familiar position of standing outside, catching glimpses of the group in silhouette and some of the lighting special effects. The music was great though. Much of it was a kind of fusion of dance electronica meets dub step and techno with tracks like “Pharoahs” and “Wildfires”.  Other tracks merged these genres with soul voice like in “Never Never” and “Something Goes Right”.  By the end of the gig it had started to drizzle.

This left just one thing left to do – hang around for 50 minutes, waiting for Franz Ferdinand to come on. To pass the time and to warm up, we attempted and failed to buy a burger after another festival goer showed us how uncooked it was, ergo we settled for German sausage. Somewhat frustratingly, the server seemed incapable of knowing the difference between strong and mild mustard.

Franz Ferdinand play a tub-thumping set at Field Day festival, Saturday 2nd June, 2012, Victoria Park, London

Franz Ferdinand play a tub-thumping set at Field Day festival, Saturday 2nd June, 2012, Victoria Park, London

 

It was now chucking it down with rain so we were relieved to have the headliners start. We stood to the back out of the main throng but still had a great view. The crowd to be fair had been a little reduced by the rain. However, our position just in front of the disabled viewing platform proved to be perfect. Franz Ferdinand was absolutely cracking. Grown men danced and jumped about in the rain at the back of the crowd to tub-thumpers like “Do You Want To”, “Take Me Out”. My personal favourite “No You Girls” was delivered by the band with gusto.  There were several new tracks played including one with curious lyrics called “Fresh Strawberries” that harked back to one of the more gentle indie styles of the early 80’s .The barnstorming end  reached its climax fittingly with “Burn this City”.  We sang, we jumped, we danced with umbrellas in the heavily pouring rain. I never had so much fun.

That said although the music was great at the festival and in some cases cutting edge, a lot was wrong. They have increased the capacity in recent years and it shows. It used to be relaxed with space to move and watch the bands in a leisurely fashion – especially earlier in the day. This year, it felt like you were tripping over people and the tents were ridiculously over crowded.  Getting to food stalls and bars occasioned at times, a 20 minute wait and the amount of drunks seems to increase year on year, in spite of stewards removing bottles and cans at the entrance.  The quality of the musical line-up saved the day but all in all I cannot count Field Day as my favourite ever festival.

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