Field Day 2014: The Highlights

By

SUNDAY

Photograph by Wunmi Onibudo
Photograph by Wunmi Onibudo

 

Pond

“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

Nguzunguzu

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

Drenge

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 Onibudo
Photograph 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 Onibudo
Photograph 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

Pixies

Photograph by Wunmi Onibudo
Photograph 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

Album Reviews

These New South Whales
These New South Whales

Shanti Celeste
Tangerine

Bob Dylan
Travellin’ Thru, 1967 – 1969: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 15

Celine Dion
Courage

Bonnie “Prince” Billy
I Made A Place

Look

Five minutes with…Kælan Mikla

Lizzo live in London