Festival Preview: Field Day 2009

01 June 2009

It wouldn’t be over-stating it to say that London’s Field Day hasn’t exactly had a run of luck since its inception in 2007.

The first year of the E3 event saw a line-up of great promise – Battles, The Concretes, Bat For Lashes, Gruff Rhys – compromised by a lack of toilets, sound issues (many stages turned into weird electroclash remixes) and more importantly a dearth of alcohol. True, the British enjoy queuing, but spending 40 minutes in a line pre-empting the need to go to the toilet wasn’t exactly a hit with the punters.
A year later and the organisation was improved dramatically with events team Ear To The Ground brought in to work on the facilities and Vanguardia on the sound levels. Once again the line-up read like VICE magazine’s wet dream, with Foals, Dan Deacon, Lightspeed Champion and Simian Mobile Disco all turning up, plugging in and, er, getting rained on. Yes, having sorted the organisational side of things, God decided to unleash a storm of Biblical proportions, literally dampening spirits and ruining views as umbrellas combined to make an impenetrable shield. Despite the weather, 2008’s festival was generally agreed to be an improvement on the year before.

Which leaves this year’s festival something to actually live up to. Luckily, they’ve managed to attract another stellar line-up of diverse acts, headlined by Scottish noise connoisseurs Mogwai, giving their only English Festival performance of the year. Elsewhere, electropop Princess Little Boots will be pushing buttons on her Tenori-on, New York’s Santigold will no doubt bring a certain ‘drunk in a fancy dress shop’ feel to proceedings and The Big Pink will just act moody and aloof.

The Bloggers Delight Stage offers up The XX, four depressingly young South-Londoners who somehow merge a love of Aaliyah with The Cure. Other acts to look out for include The Invisible, Four Tet (a Field Day veteran if such a thing can exist), Micachu & The Shapes and the newly critically acclaimed The Horrors, whose front man Faris Badwan manages to be both engaging and utterly disengaged. Also taking to the main stage is dubstep pioneer Skream, aka DJ Ollie Jones, most famous for his recent remix work on La Roux’s In For The Kill, and Christian Fennesz will be a big draw for the musoscenti.

Perhaps the most surprising – and welcome – inclusion of all is that of Mali’s Toumani Diabaté, or the ‘Hendrix of the Kora’ as he has been referred to recently. Diabate – who worked with Bjork on her album Volta – will be performing songs from his recently released Mandé Variations album on the folksy Village Mentality Stage.

As ever, Field Day promises much. A great, eclectic line-up housed in a sprawling park, with everything from traditional English tea to tug-o-war competitions being laid on to create a Village fete idyll. With only 5,000 tickets on sale, Field Day has the promise of being the best boutique festival; it just needs a bit of luck, some sun and a few more loos to get there.

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