“How are you doing? Wet, I imagine,” James Blake joked as he began his headline set at the tenth Field Day Festival in London’s Victoria Park. Despite the torrential downpour, ticket holders had plenty else to get excited about – with Eat Your Own Ears, Resident Advisor and Bugged Out also curating stages.
German DJ Motor City Drum Ensemble played early on the Saturday, beginning the weekend with some Paradise Garage disco, but his set was marred by how quiet the sound was. Fortunately the sound was better on other stages. In the Shacklewell Arms tent, named after a Dalston music venue, Fickle Friends impressed with their disco-infused pop.
Ghanaian rapper Ata Kak performed an exuberant set in the smaller Moth stage. Accompanied by three synth players and a guitarist, his frenetic mix of highlife, 90s house and hip-hop sounded majestic. ‘Oba Sima’, the highlife-influenced title track off his only album, sent the crowd into frenzy. It was the Ghanaian artist’s first ever international tour, but the quality of the show made it seem like he’d done many before.
Mount Kimbie delivered a strong set, playing a mixture of their own material and others, including ‘Mayor’ from their first album Crooks & Lovers and Pepe Braddock’s ‘Vermeille’. Their set was varied, effortlessly switching between deep house, footwork and bhangra.
It started to rain hard as Four Tet came on. Despite having a strong start, his focus on intricate rhythms as opposed to melodies did not pay off, even after trying to integrating Wiley and Rihanna samples on into his set. James Blake brought the Saturday to an end, with tracks like ‘Limit to Your Love’ and ‘Love Me In Whatever Way’ sounding haunting. He even had time to bring UK rapper Trim on as a special guest for two songs.
Although the weather didn’t really improve on Sunday, the calibre of music more than made up for it. Fat White Family entertained fans on the Shacklewell Arms stage, a show that ended up with the lead singer flexing in his briefs and getting the crowd involved to sing along with their hit ‘Touch The Leather’. Newcomer D Dumbo impressed with his downbeat rhode melodies later that afternoon.
London-based Moxie spun house classics on Snap, Crackle and Pop stage, including Tom Trago string-led ‘Use Me Again’. Daphni followed with a two hour set, playing dusty soul and percussion heavy tracks, including Brazilian floor-shaker ‘A Gira’ by Trio Ternura.
Beach House’s Alex Scally began their show saying: “Technical difficulties are the coolest, man,” before playing some tracks off the band’s latest album Depression Cherry. A highlight was ‘Space Song’, with its oscillating synth arpeggios and delicate drum patterns.
Later in the evening, people were treated to a rare show from trip hop outfit Air. Their set was heavy on hits, including ‘Cherry Blossom Girl’, ‘Sexy Boy’ and an instrumental of ‘Highschool Lover’. The band finished with an extended version ‘La Femme D’Argent’, a track that sounded like it was recorded on the moon.
Even after a rainy tenth year, Field Day and its multitude of acts did not disappoint.