Festival Frolics: Field Day 2012.

An odd occurrence is the 'Metropolitan Festival' and one that's becoming increasingly appealing when sat beneath the cruelest (at least meteorologically) of so-called summers. If today you may one moment be lamenting a lack of ill-advisedly crap-laden tent to trudge back in what you think may as well be the general direction of, as the Heavens open to excrete all watery content you're counting your lucky 'Stars (Mazzy or otherwise) that you've shelter and such stuff as home comforts are construed as waiting at the other end of the Underground. Although it may pour during the set of the Santa Monica luminaries aforementioned, to conform to British cliché the weather is otherwise wholly passable if entirely erratic. But thus is Field Day, both musically and behaviourally and the 2012 edition similarly complies with this impression constructed over the course of its still comparatively concise history.
Lest we forget, given these currently tempestuous financial climes festivals aren't exactly in the prime time of their nonliteral, collective life. Some crumbling; others felled Field Day is conversely in something of an advantageous rut and over the past few months it's been nigh on entirely impossible to ignore its imminence. Plastering tube platforms and tacked up in windowpanes, its luminous lineup in both poster and profile had already been brought to a bedazzling prominence and they today disproportionately enlarged of pupil may consequently be considered the deer in the glaring headlamps of profligacy. However Victoria Park is this afternoon unequivocally heaving, the allegorical roadkill piled up in chaotic queues at any which stall or stand or toilet or unoccupied bandstand.

Yet for reasons ultimately unknown, few frequent the BleeD / Lanzarote tent down the backside of the site for outré L.A. chanteuse Julia Holter's most succinct of showings. Arguably it's all too soporific for a Saturday midday way out east and irreverence is exhibited by they to have made it at all as chittering enshrouds her every celestial sound. That said, she too demonstrates a degree of impertinence as the nippy haunt of Ekstasis, the kind to creep bitterly up every last notch of spine as though mimicking the sporadic commotion of venomous arachnid is diluted by what genuinely and genuinely disconcertingly sounds like slight happiness. Marienbad becomes a gush of schmaltz, although Our Sorrows fares rather better as it leaves faint tracks through a Sigur Rós-ish polar soundscape, Holter herself encircled by the wisp of enough dry ice to validate such parallel. Nonetheless she ultimately serves not as the glorious opening chapter to one of what ought to be a finer, fuggier day of recently blotched memory but more as an inconsequential footnote. That she's later callously implored to make her own tracks in order that space may be fabricated in the parking lot too feels symptomatic of a bad day all round in this Field for she and indeed of too many bands being booked for this 'Day. The sluggish pomp stylings of the Last Dinosaurs could certainly have been extinguished from the bill...
Just beginning to hit their stride live however are finger-sizzlingly hot and machinably hyped Brooklynites Friends. "It's pretty beautiful although it's shitty weather", Samantha Urbani hawks from beneath furls of shimmering flaxen cloak prior to single-handedly steering the five-piece through a set of faux-, if fundamentally sensual R'n'B schtick. And as such it's neither the cowbell-centric slump to I'm His Girl, nor the joyous skittering of Mind Control that stick to grey matter like comparably colourless gum with all flavour masticated outta the stuff, but their INOJ rehash I Want To Be Your Lady Baby and A Thing Like This that prevail over temporary thought. As for that other palm, it'll presumably be ruffling the purposefully unkempt hairs of some fortunate he or she down the front.
The immediate resonance The Internet meanwhile strikes is that Sydney Bennett's widely deployed moniker of Syd tha Kyd – presumably coined by Tyler in the midst of some typically misogynistic diatribe – could not be more astute: Bennett appears terrifyingly young as she initially stands before an inconceivably and equally petrifyingly hysterical throb of human. Nods to Odd Future feature visually (the seemingly Dunkin' Donuts-inspired artwork to the largely atrocious OF Tape Vol. 2 is splattered across the back of a laptop; she sports some dubious OFWGKTA camo merch) although never sonically as the jazzy proto-soul cuts of Purple Naked Ladies predominate. Soon sat on stage ledge as though awaiting some street corner dealer, soundcheck becomes show and despite the inclusion of a sumptuous Ode to a Dream and a Left Brain-less Cocaine (again, lyrics and subject matter belie youthfulness – you'd never sell her death sticks without a valid ID card) she never quite gets going. Her vocals are unquestionably sublime and smoulder like dwindling ember but they're belittled by lyrical superfluousness concerning drugs, dope and jejunely amorous uncertainty. As things begin to drag, a sense of the seemingly interminable sets in, maybe assimilating The Internet with the internet itself.
Somewhat more attuned to the more precise intricacies of life are Peaking Lights who, observed by their misplaced "little guy" Miko ("It's weird that he gets to see us play" Indra Dunis lovably proffers), bring some lethargic vivacity to proceedings. From the moment Aaron Coyes smacks cassette down in deck and dishes out a bulbous yet unmistakably beautiful All The Sun That Shines, they enrapture with a brightness hitherto unexperienced. The pairing are propelled by a bowel-busting lower end, and yet consistently they persistently hanker for "more bass" to underpin the oddly tropical aesthetic that is somewhat unexpectedly conjured, particularly on the undulating blip of LO HI. Thus with the bass right up in every glee-smothered face, the sound feels incontrovertibly badass and with the tent aptly brimming with couples, ample copulation ensues. However with all things musical kept minimal beyond the odd nonchalant swirl of token maraca it's effectively like a rummage and a root through the 12" annals of Phonica – today relocated to nearby stall – with the old ethereal vox atop. Sure, it may encourage mental amble but they could really benefit from a band. Baby Miko one day on belly-throttling bass perhaps. He's later spotted parading some crazed ear protectors over by the disused and now abandoned bandstand and as said large intestine-loosening bass is amplified, the tent gradually empties. Lunchtime or something.
By this point in the afternoon endless innumerables litter every patch of verdancy, taking the term Field Day to a verbatim significance. Antipodean noiseniks Liars however would be extortionately enhanced were the sun to fuck right off over to Ally Pally or somewhere similarly sunless although Angus Andrew appositely resembles some Nevadan nomad lifted from notorious gonzo opus: suited, booted and adorned in aviators, he and they flow into WIXIW opener The Exact Colour Of Doubt as though there were no differentiation between entities corporeal and musical. Their set spattered with new stuff (a notably nothing-y Octagon; an electronically primordial A Ring On Every Finger; a chaotic title track), any response is discernibly muted as their obsession with many a thing analog proves overpowering. With drum pads exchanged for kit and patches for the heedless kicks of Sisterworld, they sell their latest a little short and with all unruliness ruled out, they appear unready for this variety of overblown openair show. For WIXIW immediately seems the insular sort to be inherently limited to the cavernous innards of the clunkiest headphones. Oh, and and all are performed as were.

Thus they make greatest impact when at their most guttural, as on the buzzing latter half of the title track aforesaid – a song that's as symbiotic as any in their arsenal in illustrating exactly where their live skills lie. And that's when they fumble as they feel for a good old throttle of the jugular. It's a reality that's as black and white as the monochrome punk bunting embellishing this, Eat Your Own Ears' monument of utter enormity: for although this latest swerving curveball in artistic direction may be brave and perhaps a touch brazen the house thrum of Brats, when taken and placed beside the brilliant amalgam of old and new that is Who Is The Hunter, is nowhere near as brilliant. No.1 Against The Rush replaces the derangement in their exceptional experimental mélange however: a prime hunk of bloody intensity that broods majestically as it builds, here excavated from the darkest of doldrums and subsequently exposed on the sunniest of stages it represents irradiance incarnate. "Happy birthday to the Queen", Andrews garbles before being unceremoniously cut off. He's understandably hacked off and, as ever, we're left in a discomforting sense of suspense; never to know what they may have gone done next.
It's then the turn of self-styled, self-professed funk prophet Adam Bainbridge to do his Kindness thang. He provides a toe-tapping, heel-clacking pseudo-soul sole workout as flamboyance commands fancied substance. Swinging those spindly hips and flicking them foppish locks, he's not half the vividly androgynous coxcomb he perceives himself to be and although bravado aside his sonics are as ostentatious as he, Phil Collins impersonation over the spewing of guest noodles courtesy of whichever guise Dev Hynes is now operating under scarcely cut the proverbial on a slipshod Doigsong. A poor disco pastiche perhaps, although by gosh does he strut that stuff with an enviably infallible self-assurance...
If what feels like a third of London may be crammed into this stringently fenced space then what feels like approximately a quarter of the capital by default have relocated to The Quietus' Village Mentality stage come sixish. Claire Boucher's greatest feat may no longer be considered the insightful aural encapsulation of 2k12 that is and was Visions, but rather her ability to have hacked her way up and out of Montréal underground – hauling the likes of the Prometheus-enthused Doldrums into a more lustrous spotlight while she's at it – and to then sculpt this impeccable paragon of pop du jour: Grimes. The juxtaposition of she and Eliades Ochoa and Toumani Diabaté's multicultural conglomerate AfroCubism demonstrates the eclecticism on offer, as well as the avant-garde edge that Field Day has sharpened, cultivated and nurtured since '07. It has grown into quite something and although it still takes a comparative aeon to do almost anything, it may now be convincingly posited forthright as a festival; as a fundamental spludge on any aestival calendar.

And this particular spludge is coloured most prominently with Boucher. In slogan cap and Bape knockoff she resembles some misguided hero of hip hop although of course said sculpture couldn't possibly fit in such superficial pigeonholing. For she has become the sort of popster the devout long to be within reach of, or within even a ten metre radius of. Or today merely beneath the same taut tarpaulin. They long for intimacy; for acknowledgement and for those practically carnally fastened to the barrier she supplies both. An unorthodox voyageur with a nondescript tote for a knapsack, she both boisterously and humbly sets her own stuff up yet to interject with somewhat pertinent rhetoric, may she continue to be associated with anything challenging? Even if she may be playing The Quietus' impeccably compiled shindig, she may now be deemed the norm to a large degree if the plastic bijoux glued to many a face and the hairdo massacres ubiquitously about the place are anything to go by. As per, her set has the feel of glorified mixtape in both flow and fashion as Vanessa dissipates to precipitate the emergence of Circumambient, which in turn washes away to reveal a sublime Be A Body in its wake. She woofs and wails adorably to the universally adored Genesis and the enthralling trancepop of Oblivion, drifting in and out of dry ice as we waft in and out of attention and distraction. To diverge focus for a moment, were it not for the whoosh of ponytail protruding the back of her baseball cap she could feasibly be viewed as the depilated menace every Wood Green savage aspires to become. And although there's the odd mishap to approximate show to crowd discontrol misdemeanour, Grimes has completed her transformation into the sort of bona fide popstar she'll inevitably never have even so much as dreamed of becoming: armed with a show to prove a point, she may now paint an indelible look of disbelief and with it colour across the pallid face of any disbeliever in the ceaseless deluge of hype.

In comparison, just about the greatest intrigue to Metronomy is attracted by Mount's mustard top. Witnessed from what feels like neighbouring London borough, the sound seems clunky as if palpably obfuscated by the thick blanket of hashish billow knitted over the duration of the afternoon and even though a rambunctious The End Of You Too is preceded by quintessentially gawky talk of "tiny airplanes" (the track dedicated to the nearby City Airport), the four-piece come across as lamentably charmless.
From half-assed to half-masked, Aaron Jerome is visibly going for this one: behind an elephantine, typically Aztec-inspired drape he and Sampha bob like the loneliest of buoys on opposing sides of the stage. The thing drops and the full SBTRKT show begins. Or it at least does for a moment, before the power fails and any sense of purposefully crafted spectacle is entirely unstitched. However Jerome categorically inhabits exactly where dance music ought to be in this Disco 2012 and is questionably there all on his own, thus the croonsome Never Never and the sparse sing-alongs of Hold On sew strands of flawless excellence back into one of the sets of this Field Day/ evening/ night. Elsewhere, Derwin panders to the preconception of we observing him "checking emails" as he keeps his head buried in a good MacBook for forty. As with Gold Panda's Koko show of yesteryear, there's a feeling of great pertinence to this one; an "I was there when people clambered up the tent infrastructure as though its poles were metallic bamboo shoots" kinda moment. It's a massive show, this: it's to the Village Mentality what Guetta is to the ever-deplorable V Festival, albeit with the mindless house mash of the latter interchanged with subtle electronica bangers such as You, and Back Home, and the irrepressibly effervescent Snow & Taxis. Again, as with seemingly every show these days, humongous congratulations and ursine hugs are the order of the eve.
With most pupils now lost in darkened puddles of befuddlement, there are a fair few soon-to-be-achey jaws about you wouldn't mind breaking as they natter strident nothings, although Mazzy Star soon superbly banish any such vitriol to the outermost orbits of thought. They're the space blanket in which you yearn to enrobe, for theirs is a spaced-out sound that's warmier and fuzzier than the embrace of the sole Gold Panda; whisking the mind away from the general whiff of degeneracy, E's & Wizz & weed etc. Hope Sandoval and David Roback may inspire involuntary longing for an Other Stage sunset showdown at the festival nobody is this year deemed Worthy of frequenting but to have them here and to have them now, channeling the sort of secular appeal and adoration traditionally reserved for The Second Coming (aka Jason Pierce), is quite godly. The Village Mentality feels safe and snug; protected from the adverse conditions outside as the Heavens upchuck all aqueous stuff and again Mazzy Star embody a rather human comfort: whether it be the restrained lollop of Blue Light or the timeless slides of Fade Into You, if epiphanic moments are few then they're most certainly forceful.
As the fields of east London brim and the fringes of society interweave themselves with the amble of the mainstream (again, see Grimes), Field Day represents a cramped and crowded depiction of contemporary culture wherein a Village Mentality sits beside a more generic, intoxicant-induced mental incapacity. Love; like; loathe: that's the way of the world these days.