Vanity Project

fanzine archive and photo blog

Field Day 2012 @ Victoria Park

Field Day
Victoria Park. 02jun12.

Here We Go Magic @ Laneway Stage

To be forewarned is to be forearmed, and the horror stories of previous Field Days abounded. Inability to get into tented stages, too many tickets sold for the space, poor sound and organisation. Given what I’ve witnessed at the 1-2-3-4 in the past, organisational chaos seems de rigueur for east London park festivals, so the expectations were kept low.

However, Field Day organisers appear to have listened, increasing the size of the tents, having the bare minimum of side flaps so over spilling punters might still see and hear, whilst the sound across the site appeared adequate, apart from perhaps for the poor old Farnborough Marching Band, invited here for no discernible reason, given the task of competing with the bleed from about four stages without amplification. Plus they weren’t even marching. It would, I imagine be as frustrating an experience for them as it apparently was for those who got caught in the tickets/security gate rush-hours outside.

Arriving before mid-day and the first act meant sailing straight through the high-viz clad hefties and the sniffer dogs and heading straight for the furthest part of the site to be greeted by the horrifically youthful Two Jackals (Laneway Stage) kicking in with their attempt to fit into the cupboard with Editors and Interpol. Youth means parading badges of identity and as time goes on hopefully they will add more of their own stamp to the alt.rock noir formula.

Another journey across the entire site finds Julia Holter (BleeD/Lanzarote Stage) who operates on the line between Juliana Barwick’s ethereality, James Blake’s use of space and the sprite-like court songs of the Sea Nymphs. Her voice seeps out like a message sent off in a bottle on the ebb of her eerie synths and bob of the strident cello.

Laurel Halo @ BleeD/Lanzarote Stage

The shoes take another battering as its back to the Laneway Stage to pin down New Yorkers Here We Go Magic. That, though, is not easy as they work through songs that doff caps to both Talking Heads and Captain Beefheart, Make Up Your Mind particularly sounding like desert blues giving up its day job to go to art school. It’s a top pop moment, and they have plenty of them, whilst also having the confidence to taper a tune down to the pace of the early Low records then wind up into ELO pomp.

Com Truise (BleeD/Lanzarote Stage) is the first of the day’s solo performers, stood stoic behind laptop and bits, operating a mellow electroacoustic groove. Later in the day, Gold Panda and Grimes both fill out the Village Mentality Stage with their more lively takes on sole operator electro, although the latter added a dancer in a gimp mask to add to the visual spectacle. Not the she needed to as the self-confessed timid live performer of her early years leaps around with engagingly giddy abandon herself, and is riding such a wave of goodwill at present ( as a densely packed, noisily excited, tent made clear) it would have been hard for her to screw this one up. Genesis is a tiny diamond of a tune and is rightly saved for last.

Possibly the most surprising of the lone wolves is Laurel Halo (BleeD/Lanzarote Stage) who may be a short, Avril Lavigne-alike, but swings a huge dick. Loudly castigating us for not cheering our enthusiasm for Field Day loud enough, she then hits us with a sound like Fuck Buttons documenting a particularly harsh, and recent, hangover. After 10 minutes, vocals are layered in but the heft of the beats and the noise-ambient chaos mean they are like a young chorister singing from within the clutches of hell’s pit.

R. Stevie Moore @ Village Mentality Stage

Not that ‘solo artists’ are confined here at Field Day to the world of the synth and the sequencer, nor to acting the loner. Guitarist David Pajo, formerly of Slint, appears alongside a bass player, and is on hand to provide calming, lyricless, parched drone in his Papa M guise (Village Mentality Stage).

R. Stevie Moore is also a solo act, brought to band here, but possibly the ultimate solo act, having self-released over 400 lo-fidelity recordings and videos (collected now on YouTube), often through his own ‘Cassette Club’ (which became the ‘CD-R Club’ in 1999) and now on Bandcamp. He has been doing this since he was 16, which was in 1968, so he’s an elder statesman here, even though he has spent the vast majority of his career as an underground, outsider curiosity.

Recent championing by and Ariel Pink and Tim Burgess, the latter coming on late in the set to add awkward tambourine and backing vocals, and a return to full band live action has brought him to wider attention. Dressed in sweatpants, and sporting the kind of facial hair you can usually only get away with if you have an army of elves in your employ, the eccentricity is clearly of the cuddly ‘hey everybody, I’ve just dyed my beard blue’ kind. R. Stevie projects a wavering baritone onto his sharp rock and his pop whimsy, but then on I Like To Stay Home unleashes a growling bark that Jazz Coleman would rank amongst his best. A reason to be cheerful, certainly.

Now, going from R. Stevie Moore to Liars (Eat Your Own Ears Stage) via the W.I. tea and cake marquee must rank as one of the great festival stage transfers, as Liars put in an astounding, authoritative performance on the main stage as the sun made virtually its only appearance all day. I have seen the New York trio on three occasions now and they have gone from ‘mmm, not sure’ in 2003 to ‘hey these are alright’ last year to ‘I must gather all of their records’ in 2012. I have some catching up to do, clearly.

Liars @ Eat Your Own Ears Stage

Never ones to sit still, new LP WIXIW is yet another change of direction, and they showcase it here, thunderous beats and ambient electro building up from the wide-pupilled alt.rock foundations, and occupying a world of its own. In the end, technical issues mean they are cut short with a comically cod-Cockney, but terse, “’appy birfday to the Queen” as their parting remark.

Another act ploughing their own particular furrow are Chicago’s Tortoise (Village Mentality Stage) who are considered doyens of post-rock, but yet break free of the shackles of these connotations, swapping instruments regularly through, amongst other things, guitars, two drum sets and two vibraphones. The result of his manoeuvring is a music informed by jazz, post punk and their own lounge take on math rock and for all its standing as cerebral ‘head music’, the effect on body movement throughout the tent is clear to see.

To close proceedings at the Village Mentality Stage, California’s Mazzy Star, recently reformed after over a decade apart, are tasked with coaxing us into the night. As such, their shoegazing Americana acts as a series of gentle lullabies as the rain and the dark descends.

June 6, 2012 - Posted by | new reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] building up from the wide-pupilled alt.rock foundations, and occupying a world of its own”. FULL REVIEW. Highlight: […]

    Pingback by 2012: 25 gig salute « Vanity Project fanzine | December 20, 2012 | Reply

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