Festival Preview: Field Day 2011

01 July 2011

Despite expanding to accommodate 20,000 people, Field Day, unlike some other festivals utilising its Victoria Park venue space, is not expanding to a several-days affair. Concentrating the best into a single day, what it is doing is cementing its reputation as the summer event at which to see music pioneers outdoors. Assembled in Hackney will be the most musically interesting acts around; aside from the Field Day collective, only ATP could create a bill so well balanced between the known and the really-should-be-known.

With its debut year of toilet/bar misery surely consigned to the history books and with its organisers, artists and supporters united in an almighty sundance to beat away the wetter meterological elements, this year’s Field Day – the fifth – packs in almost too much to see comfortably. Omar Souleyman (pictured) has just played at Glastonbury and has been working with Bjrk on remixes of her Biophilia tracks; his own Arab street music, a smash-up of cheap keyboard sounds, incendiary rhythms and intricate strings with Souleyman’s incantations in Arabic, should be one of the day’s biggest draws. The Syrian party starter may spend most of his set stood stock still and inscrutible behind shades, but his audiences must be forgiven for doing the exact opposite.

And it’s not like he’s a token sop to “world music” or “non-Anglophonic music” or whatever’s your term for bloody amazing noise these days. Konono No 1 show up too. And as if that wasn’t enough, the organisers underline their music nous by booking Sun Ra Arkestra.

Those three would justify the ticket price on their own, but that wouldn’t factor in the reunited Electrelane; Brighton’s finest all-lady band have been much missed and, after a couple of warm-up shows, should have a packed crowd falling at their feet. Mercury should-have-been-nominees Wild Beasts, The Horrors and SBTRKT face up to the fact that they’ll likely do rather well even without that most fickle of awards nodding their way. And Gruff Rhys, Mark Kozelek and Willy Mason are as close as you’ll get to a ‘veterans’ category.

We’ve missed Factory Floor in several cities because of their late start times; our chance to make amends is at Field Day as they’re also on the bill, as are dubstep soul boys Jamie Woon and James Blake. And not only is Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti slated to appear, he’s also doing the aftershow at Dalston’s venue-of-the-moment the Shacklewell Arms.

It being a field day, elements of school sports day/village fete good times are thrown in for good measure. On the Village Green hosted by Bearded Kitten, fresh from their Glastonbury extravaganza The Bull Ring, they contrive to include the following improbable events:

Blindfold Sweetcorn Husking Championship
Scone Throwing
Vegetable Discus
Broom Sweeping Slalem
Pull the Short Straw
Apron String Shuffle Race
Human Wheelbarrow
Tug of War hosted by the official Tug of War Association
Plus old favourites such as the Egg and Spoon, Three Legged and Watermelon Relay Races

At 39.50, it’s still amazing value, too. With a consistently groundbreaking line-up year in, year out, with each passing year Field Day becomes an ever more essential event for music lovers in the capital and beyond. See you there, again…

Field Day takes place from 6 August 2011 in Victoria Park, London. Tickets and further information are available from Field Day.

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