Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Amongst the smug sun lit “what storm?” grins and the whizzing fairground rides dotted around Victoria Park this past weekend for the eighth annual Field Day Festival were a whole host of incredible bands. With our shades fixed squarely to our faces we headed down to check out Saturday and (the much sparser) Sunday’s offerings. Here Thomas Hannan, Luke Morgan Britton and Lauren Down recall their favourites whilst Wunmi Onibudo sends in the shots.


James Holden

It’s near impossible for festival openers to overcome the early rise obstacle and successfully immerse as well as impress. Thus, just like this, nigh on every review will cite this as a downside, no matter how impressive the set. But regardless, the sprawling unwind of Holden’s “Gone Feral” aptly soundtracks the weary-eyed bewilderment of those just arriving. Just epic. LMB

Sky Ferreira

Photograph by Wunmi OnibudoPhotograph by Wunmi Onibudo

Sky Ferriera’s wearing sunglasses, and so, sunshine, are you. The Californian singer’s main stage set could only be better suited to a festival if she were clad in something a little more appropriate to this blissful weather than that huge anorak she sports at all times, but the melodies that waft back and forth ‘cross Vicky Park on the whim of this sporadic East London wind are made for exactly this kind of audience. “Boys” especially has a wistful quality that befits this combination of brightness and breeze, though there’s a feeling at this stage that people would be having a nice time whatever they were watching. When they think back, though, one imagines they’ll be pleased they took this in – for what Sky Ferreira lacks in appropriate stage attire, she more than makes up for with festival-ready tunes. TH

Jaakko Eino Kalevi

Other than the £5 note I picked up from the floor by the main stage, Jaakko Eino Kalevi has been my find of the summer. Initially wooed by the lumbering Finn’s Great Escape set last month, which was smooth as a baby’s backside, I’m delighted to find that today’s set runs even smoother – mostly down to the frequent deployment of a heavily reverb laden saxophone. While seeing this guy make his impeccably groovy synth pop work at night time remains high on my to do list for the coming months, this mid afternoon, sun-soaked set is still a joy in itself – no more so than on an excellent “Flexibile Heart”, a song so catchy it seems to have a crowd of people hearing it for the first time singing along within a matter of bars. TH


4pm is not usually the kind of time suited to aggressive dance tones, oddly jagged melodic textured and shape-shifting house beats but that is exactly what enigmatic producer SOPHIE delivered to a more than receptive crowd at Red Bull Music Academy’s criminally small tent at the end of the festival site. Given the hour it is, some people clearly struggle to wrap their heads around the fizzing sonics - including a mutton-chopped sound man who keeps appearing on stage to try and adjust the levels, only to be ignored by the man behind the decks - but it’s just about the most incredible performance of the day, if only for the fact that it compels the most incredible dance moves from those that do get it. Listening back to cuts like “Bip” and “Elle” now, all I want to do is witness them in their late-night, smoke-machine filled club incarnation. LD

Seun Kuti

When I’m dead, I really hope my kids take a tribute band around the world playing my songs to enormous festival crowds. This is unlikely for many reasons, but perhaps the strongest of those is that I’ve never written a song as good as “VIP (Vagabonds In Power)” by Fela Kuti, a tune given a powerful rendition by his son Seun on Field Day’s imposing main stage. It’s unlikely Fela could ever have imagined his music being so fervently enjoyed by a crowd with quite this demographic make-up when he made it, but while many around us bemoan the numbers of middle class white people dancing to revolutionary Afrobeat, it strikes me that its journey is actually quite encouraging, its presence on this stage and rapturous reception by this audience in itself something of a triumph for Kutis past and present. Seun, a superb singer, saxophone player and dancer in his own right, has everyone smiling to a set of zebra striped, bum shaking beauty - nice one, son. TH


As unassuming as SOHN appears, draped in a cloaking oversized hood, it’s probably inversely proportionate to how permeating his music can be. Two months on from the release of his 4AD debut, it’s still his breakthrough hit “The Wheel” that captures the attention of any newcomers to the crowd and evokes a mass sing-song from those who already know every word. LMB

Blood Orange

Photograph by Wunmi OnibudoPhotograph by Wunmi Onibudo

After sonically shape-shifting through his late twenties and early-thirties, Dev Hynes seems to have found his own constant bearing with his Blood Orange moniker. But, as shown by his recent producer and songwriting work, it’s perhaps collaboration where he flourishes the most. Luckily, this set isn’t without its guest slots: a bow from Skepta and repeated appearances from Friends’ Samantha Urbani, Hynes even runs through a rendition of the latter’s “I’m His Girl”. A remarkably self-assured performance from someone never adverse to being a team player. LMB


John Wizards

Photograph by Wunmi OnibudoPhotograph by Wunmi Onibudo

John Wizards self-titled album is one of those beautiful, subtle records that seemed to emerge from nowhere in 2013 to capture the hearts of just about anyone who listened. There was no “buzz”, no ridiculous antics, no over-exposure; just wonderfully joyful pop creations whose strong African influences and complex electronic compositions marked it out as something utterly refreshing. In a world that so often favours an easily digestible, homogenised sound the ability to be refreshing is a rather vital one. Taking their place on our very own stage we’re treated to warm harmonies, buoyant rhythms and twisted synths that - no matter how utterly bonkers and hyperactive as they get - still provide this hypnotising sense of calm as the early evening hours settle in. LD

Neneh Cherry

Between songs from her latest record Blank Project, Neneh Cherry launches in to the kind of spoken word slam poetry I’d usually cringe at, yet today, can’t get enough of. It’s perhaps because a lot of it’s delivered in the same kind of cadence she used way back on “Buffalo Stance”, and a bit of me is still hoping I’ll get to see her perform that live one day, but the grooves her backing band Rocketnumber9 concoct sound like they’re doing their best to destroy any memories of Cherry’s past work. And fair enough - that song aside, her newest material is her best, and this is certainly the finest live performance I’ve yet to see her give. Her voice cuts through the formidable bastardised funk of her backing band with a pointed elegance, and though slower numbers such as “Bullshit” don’t quite grab attention from the front right to the back of this packed tent, a monstrous “Weightless” – so loose, and yet so powerful – is the best thing these ears are privy to all day. TH

Jessy Lanza

On a bit of an electronic trip Field Day presented festival goers with the really tough choice of Todd Terje or Jessy Lanza but it was Lanza’s smooth romantic grooves and playful clattering percussion that won out in the end. Having released her debut album Pull My Hair via Hyperdub last year, the Canadian singer has only really just begun to receive the kind of kudos she deserves. Emerging behind the wall of hair that cascades from underneath her cap, Lanza’s natural ear and production skills are immediately apparent: everything she does is measured, it’s not impassionate but it’s controlled in the most perfect way - creating layer upon layer of subtle touches until a loosely 90s RnB sounds emerges. LD

East India Youth

I’ve previously found the work of William Doyle easier to be impressed by than lose myself in, but judging by the trance he instantly seems to place the Shacklewell Arms tent under, I’m in the minority. So I entertain the idea that I’m a misguided idiot for a while, and start to really enjoy myself. Whilst the technical and compositional ability of the fella was never in doubt – there really is just the one dude up there, doing all that… stuff – I’d neglected to focus on the reflective power of his music, the idea that his barrage of synthesised noise could be borderline meditative rather than imposing. But it’s all that and more, including being decidedly intelligent straight up pop when it wants to be. I stop taking notes and go dancing. TH

Jon Hopkins

Much like Four Tet’s set at last year’s Field Day, we knew Hopkins would bring the euphoria! We didn’t know he’d also bring the balloons back but we were happy to see them once more! Delving into numbers from his Mercury Prize nominated record Immunity, Hopkins’ heavy bass and hard, driving rhythmic focus intoxicated just about everyone that came close. On stage Hopkins takes the pulsating beats, soft builds and endless electronic trips from his recorded opus and transforms them into a harsher beast, growling and flashing their teeth as they compel you to move. One of the great things about Hopkins’ live sets has always been just how immersive they are, but on the flip side it results in a performance that feels over before it’s even begun. That’s not really a bad thing though, essentially I could have just watched this all night and been more than happy! LD


Songkick recently informed me I’d seen Metronomy more than any other user, so in a bid to keep my lead firmly in place, I decided their headline slot was the one for me. The fact that I’ve seen them live so many times isn’t a mark of some wild-eyed uber-fandome but more a reflection of just how long Joseph Mount and co have been pushing the boundaries of what pop music means. The fact that I’m also from Devon might have something to do with that high gig count but that’s besides the point, Pip Paine (Pay the £5000 You Owe) came out in 2005. That’s nearly 10 years ago. Not only is that kind of mind-blowing in itself, but it’s also incredible in the sense that new bands are so rarely afforded such time, lee-way and luxury to find their sound - let alone to keep pushing it one they have until it’s almost unrecognisable from its origins. We get the full range this evening.

A heavy dose of new album Love Letters brings highlights in the form of its title track, the Fleetwood Mac stylings of “Month of Sundays” and the mass “shoop-doop-doop-ahhs” of a crowd singing along to “Aquarius”. English Riveria gets its fair share of the action too with “The Look” and “The Bay” providing such perfect festival headline melodies that the fact this is their first ever festival headline slot suddenly becomes rather puzzling. Having watched them play the dance tent, co-ordinated dance moves and flashing t-shits in tow, at some mid-afternoon hour during Glastonbury 2009 this evening’s slick operation cant help but leave me feeling a little proud, and I know I’m not alone as the response to set closer “You Could Easily Have Me” - from 2006 - drives everyone in the mass swirling crowd to completely lose it. LD

Danny Brown

Photograph by Wunmi OnibudoPhotograph by Wunmi Onibudo

Having your set time rival that of the festival’s headliners is always going to provide mixed results, but Danny Brown’s set provided a perfect antithesis to that of Metronomy. Fast, ferocious but just as fun, Brown ensured the party continued right until the curfew for all those who chose to venture away from the bloated main stage. LMB {pagebreak}


Photograph by Wunmi OnibudoPhotograph by Wunmi Onibudo


“I must apologise, we’ve been watching Spinal Tap for 30 hours straight”, say Pond, believably. Their set is littered with unapologetic nods in the direction of progressive rock, but it’s when they display their mastery of kraut-y grooves and a wry sense of humour that they connect most forcefully. It sure is fun to watch a band looking like they’re living the lives of riley, but alas, their curious choice of cover material (Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song”) only goes to emphasise their comparative lack of A Proper Tune. Still, it provided a great collective “Wait a minute… is that… “Earth Song”?!” moment, and as the set became more melodiously playful toward its close, one suspects they might have such a number tucked not too far up their sleeve for the future. TH


L.A. duo Nguzunguzu seem to have found a way round what was Saturday’s prevailing problem of there being very few people wanting to dance before nightfall. While not packed, their tent seems to only have people getting their groove on to weighty garage house as its audience. It’s easy enough to see why - though their set is devoid of any of the subtleties of, say, Jon Hopkins, it never lets up in its bass-heavy thrills. In fact, it keeps getting more and more enjoyable, fuller and fuller of sweet RnB hooks over menacing electro, to the point where even I entertain the idea of a bit of a boogie. But I don’t fancy being the only person down the front of this dark tent who doesn’t have any sunglasses on. TH


I didn’t get the fuss around that Jools Holland performance of theirs, but it turns out that Drenge in front of a big crowd of people can be a bloody great day out. Expecting to quickly affirm my belief that there was something a bit Emperor’s New Clothes about the Derbyshire duo, they actually provide my surprise of the day. They’re a really strong live band, giving a crowd famished of riffs everything they desire, and enchanting anyone still sat on the fence towards them with a formidable, Cobain-eque roar. They’ve not quite managed to art of the epic set closer, but it’s hard to make a case against their barrage of riffs when it’s truly in full flow. TH

The Horrors

Photograph by Wunmi OnibudoPhotograph by Wunmi Onibudo

“We’re called The Horrors, if you didn’t already know or if you can’t read,” were Faris Badwan’s opening words, giving a little head-nod to the massive signage behind the group, but also displaying the once-a-bit-of-a-joke band’s ever-growing confidence. While their latest album may stick to a bit too religiously to the psych-kraut formula they’ve stumbled upon ever since album two, it does allow for a perfectly fluid and cohesive set throughout. LMB

Future Islands

Photograph by Wunmi OnibudoPhotograph by Wunmi Onibudo

It’s always hard to telling whether people are laughing with you or laughing at you, especially in this viral online world, and that’s exactly the unlikely predicament that Future Islands find themselves in ever since that already-legendary Letterman performance. But with a tent packed to the brim and a performance to steal the entire festival, we’re sure Future Islands won’t be worrying too much about semantics. And after years of being overlooked, they deserve all the publicity they are currently getting. LMB


Photograph by Wunmi OnibudoPhotograph by Wunmi Onibudo

I don’t know whether I feel sorry for Paz Lenchantin, or if I want to be Paz Lenchantin. I mean, imagine growing up a Pixies fan and then getting to play with the Pixies. That must feel great! But then you’ve got a whole lot of other Pixies fans who now think so much less of the band because you, you heathen, have replaced their favourite thing about the Pixies. It must feel… odd. Lenchantin, however, doesn’t put a foot out of place all set – she sings beautifully, and plays with both respect for and utmost involvement in the material. Nobody’s problems with this Pixies’ set can be with her.

By in large, it’s an enjoyable gig, this – but there are problems. For one thing I’d like for the Pixies to be just a little louder than the people singing along with them, if possible. Also, there are certain songs where Black Francis has the kind of grimace on his face one pulls after you’ve been waiting for something to upload to Dropbox for hours and it’s just failed – nobody would agree he’s having the time of his life up there.

And yet, quite a lot of people in the crowd are having the time of theirs. Because, some rather turgid new material aside, there just aren’t any bad song on this setlist. Slightly muted versions of “Velouria”, “Bone Machine”, “Hey”, “Ed Is Dead”, “Isla De Encanta” and “Where Is My Mind” are at least slightly muted versions of some of the best indie rock songs ever written. And rather than focusing on its shortcomings, this crowd – bless ‘em – provide the set with as much as they take from it, to the extent that their excitement seemed to melt away any residual cynicism. TH

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