Field Day 2014: The Highlights

By

John Wizards

Photograph by Wunmi Onibudo
Photograph 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

Metronomy

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 Onibudo
Photograph 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

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