Battles, Electrelane, Foals, Fridge, 1990s - GIITTV@ Field Day- 11th August.
Angus Reid 15/08/2007
Since Field Day, Its become more important for me to write this review, to set the record straight rather than just the usual "get it in quick" reasons. People have been complaining. A lot. I have seen people describe the day as “abject misery”, “a fucking disgrace” and other such slurs. Naturally the promoters, Eat Your Own Ears and Adventures In The Beetroot Fields have responded, though the argument has been weak - the main response seeming to be “yeah, but the bands were good”. So it's about time there was a bit of an alternative opinion on this.
Arriving with plenty of time to get some cash and a drink, we amble over to the main stage to catch Caribou. It's an interesting set up, with the two drum kits facing each other and a guitarist / bassist in the far corner of the little raised plinth on which they all stand. It's as if they're set up for a duel, and that's exactly how things kick off, the two drummers seemingly locked into some kind of Vulcan mind-meld as fills and rolls bounce off each other to fantastic effect. It's the older songs that work best here though, from the previous incarnation as Manitoba before an enforced name change. There's a much more relaxed, danceable vibe to the older stuff that seems to have been replaced with average indie guitar music as Caribou. It's a shame, but it doesn't stop the live show from ending on a drum off frenzy of excitement, and the overall impression is good.
A brief wander around the site after this reveals that there isn't too much of a village fete feel, with only a few stalls, pretty small and tucked out of the way, to distract from the music. That is, of course, until the sight of a collection of woodland animals in suits having a tug o' war greets us from beyond the trees. From that point on, the fox keeps making appearances, lending the whole festival a somewhat surreal, Lynchian feel.
The Strange Death of Liberal England are thrashing their hearts out in the Beetroot Fields tent, but Fridge are due on the main stage, and it's to that that people flock. It's been five years since Fridge took to the stage, perhaps the only reason for them being on so early today. It doesn't show though as they belt through some of the new album material with joyous abandon. Since when has avant-garde music felt so, well, summery? After what feels like a relatively short set it's back to waiting around again, and a chance to notice all the queues developing around the site - mostly for the loos and the bars. That said, it takes a matter of minutes to get some food and drink and prepare for the 1990s, followed by The Aliens.
The 1990s are so bland as to be completely anonymous, so it's a nice chance to enjoy the sunshine while sitting in a field with some mates. Formed of two ex-Beta Band members, The Aliens show promises to be quite something, and the assortment of sunglasses that the band takes to the stage in is quite remarkable. It is, however the only remarkable thing about their set, as they hash out a set of pretty standard indie rock by numbers, albeit with big hair and lots of enthusiasm, but still, it's not enough to keep things interesting. You can't help but wonder what happened to the inventiveness and creativity that at least two of these people used to display.
Now comes decision time. Festivals always have a clash or two to contend with, so is it to be the agitated, shouty stutter of Foals, or the more gentle, tuneful Adem? Choosing Foals as we've already seen Adem as part of the Fridge set, we're treated to a fantastic set from the twitchy, funky rock outs of Foals. They may have impeccably trendy haircuts, but there's substance to back up the style and Foals don't hold back for a second. This is why people are here, to enjoy some of the more underground side of great music before it goes huge.
Foals have got my taste for interesting guitar music worked up now, and the promise of Electrelane to follow is irresistible. And from the very first note they're nigh on perfect. Mixing material from the new album, No Shouts No Calls, and predecessor Axes, the constant tidal movements of acceleration and deceleration in pace keep everyone hooked from the off. The tension in the slow passages builds massively until suddenly, as one, they're off into pounding riffs and swooning melodies again. Thus far, it would seem that Electrelane are on course to be the band of the day, but that would be to reckon against Battles.
Even from afar it's possible to see when Battles are set up, the cymbal stand towering into the sky above the drum kit. With a blast of looped, distorted noise from a sampler, they begin a set of only four songs, but they build with loop upon loop, rhythm against rhythm and by the end of each track every head in the audience is bobbing along, unable to resist. Finishing with the rambunctious stomp of Atlas, a song so infectious it makes smallpox seem small time, Battles leave the crowd baying for more. Half an hour just isn't enough for some bands, but sadly half an hour is all there is.
At this point, I'll admit to heading off early, more through tiredness from sitting in the sun all day than having had enough of the toilet / bar situation. The day has been fantastic though, and a thoroughly good time seems to have been had by everyone, despite (or possibly because of) not having easy access to alcohol. The toilet queues have been long all day, but have moved swiftly. For those that have had their day turned into “abject misery” you can only wonder if they were there to see some great bands do what they do best, or to get drunk in a field in the sun. Admittedly, the day was not without fault, and could have been better organised, but this was their first time organising a festival and with the right attitude that's not going to stop and hardened fan of great music from having a brilliant day out.