Review: Field Day 2018
Photo: Steve Turvey/Fanatic
It’s tough to begin a review of last weekend’s Field Day without taking a moment to set the scene. For the past eleven years, Field Day has called Victoria Park its home. The organisers, Eat Your Own Ears, have grown it and grown with it, building experience and ironing out kinks, eventually expanding into two days from one in 2014 due to demand. Earlier this year, international events giants AEG won the exclusive rights to events in Victoria Park, and so Field Day have been booted out. Their new home, Brockwell Park, is just over half the size of their old one, and Lambeth residents have fought tooth and nail to keep the decibels down to a minimum. Anxious rumblings abounded in the months before festival season hit: would Field Day survive the upheaval unscathed?
For me, the answer’s a tentative ‘yes’. Here’s why:
1. The people at Field Day know how to programme a line-up
True to the community-led atmosphere that has, for so many years, made Field Day what it is, there was truly something for everyone. It was a shame that two of the weekend’s acts — Madlib and Earl Sweatshirt — had to cancel at the last minute, but regardless the diversity of the line-up was something to behold. Friday boasted a laid back selection, full of jazz, soul, and full bands, while Saturday catered to the weekend warriors with a harder, faster, electronica-focused programme. There were few weak links, but special mention goes to…
Moses Sumney — for having a voice as thick and as sweet as honey
Loyle Carner — for loving his mum so much that he dedicated two separate songs to her
Erykah Badu — for a) being Erykah Badu and b) dedicating her set to the 90s babies (thas me!)
Princess Nokia —for stage-diving about 3 minutes into her set — a true beast
Avalon Emerson — for bringing some trippy acid tunes to the mix
Helena Hauff — for going unbelievably hard from the first minute of her set to the last
Young Marco — for being the most full of beans
Four Tet — for being so beloved that the Barn Stage became untenably full (see below)
2) The smaller site led to a greater sense of intimacy
So yeah, as you may have heard / will have struggled to miss if you were there, the final few hours of the Saturday were plagued by an overcrowding issue at The Barn Stage. When I first entered at 4pm to catch Daphni’s set, things already looked pretty rammed, but a bit of determination was all it took to get a good spot close to the front. When the time came to go back in for Four Tet however, things weren’t looking so great. The place became so overcrowded that his show had to be paused for almost an hour.
But this (albeit significant) setback aside, while the rest of the festival felt busy, the new site lent itself nicely to Field Day’s rough and tumble vibe. I made loads of pals standing shoulder to shoulder waiting for artists to arrive on stage (shout out to the gals I was drinking with waiting for Erykah Badu to show up), and despite being pretty a bit more packed-in in comparison to previous years, food and beers were easy to grab. All we needed was a bigger Barn Stage with two entrances rather than one and we’d have been golden.
3) Care was taken with the sound (for the most part)
Considering this was one of the biggest fears of Field Day attendees following the enormous fuss kicked up by Lambeth residents, the sound at Field Day was good to great depending on the stage. The Main Stage was on point and thank god — imagine turning up to see living legend Erykah only to be disappointed by lacklustre sound — as was London In Stereo and Superdry Sounds, though neither came close to the Resident Advisor sound system which very nearly blew my face off. Sadly, things weren’t so great over at The Barn. During Daphni’s set my friend and I literally did a whisper test and, sadly, The Barn failed it. Enough about that though — I think those guys already know what they need to do for next year.
All in all, a great couple of days were had by all on The Tung team. There were certainly some teething problems, and although we were sad about Four Tet’s set, elsewhere we saw some of our favourite acts play to warm, friendly crowds of music lovers of all kinds. We’re certain that a team with as great a pedigree as Field Day’s will be able to smooth out the issues and come back in 2019 better than ever. We’ll certainly be there to find out.