Photo: Carsten Windhorst
As a veteran of many weekend (and longer) events I'd never thought I'd say this but one day festivals rock! Its all the filth, poor catering and shit weather of a longer festival except that at the end of the day you can go home, eat fruit and shower the dirt off thinking 'thank crap that's over'.
Many people leaving Field Day - held in Victoria Park near Bethnal Green - would be thinking exactly that as they hauled their soggy and mud-splattered selves home.
Despite the apocalyptic rain however, this was an extraordinary festival...if a little daunting. Five stages offered a huge selection of indie, rock and DJ names you feel that you should have known (and many people, even music journos, were happy to confide that they didn't). Even so, this made for the prospect of your new favourite band being just the next tent over all the more an exciting prospect and for which many had come to revel.
Not compelled to arrive early- unlike long festivals where the bands wake you up- its mid afternoon before I arrive at The XX. Placed clumsily in an ill lit tent far smaller than they deserve, they roll out excellent and tender psych-indie barely visible on a pitch black stage. Needless to say what is audible is incredible and its a sad state where over crowding get the better of me and I go off for more adventure.
The Temper Trap quell these cravings. Largely instrumental shoe-gaze on a summer afternoon with a pint in hand is very satisfying even if the mother of storms threatens. Needless to say the band try extra hard to entertain those people at this open air stage who are shooting calculating glances at the nearest cover. Their performance largely succeeds in appeasing the rain gods until the last 10 minutes of their set when the sky bursts forth like the over-full bladder of a drunk on a pissed Friday-night walk home.
As a result The Horrors following haven't a hope in hell. Their lack-lustre noise-material from their second album combined with the weather quickly sees people walking away – a shame for one of the larger name bands on the bill.
Luckily the pristine Little Boots is under canvass for her performance and looking as lush as ever. Though a little vacant as a stage presence, unsurprisingly her material compensates massively as she plays practically all of debut album 'Hands', saving best until last in the form of 'Stuck On Repeat'. She is a true pop princess.
Before her though is the first surprise of the day in the form of Fake Blood. Their mixes have been impressing those in the know for a while and their mutant rave music today is exactly what the crowds crave and they revel in it.
The Big Pink are the next to amaze. Little known now, if the dice roll right then in about three months time their harder-than-Jesus-and-Mary-Chain will be everywhere. Those already in the know rock out to their excellent performance that screams arenas more than a half full tent.
Back out in the open and Santigold is doing her best to entertain through what is now a light drizzle with her off-centre pop. She's reasonably successful and as the weather gets better the crowd gets bigger.
The same can't be said for the penultimate act, DJ Skream. Clearly misplaced in the line up, the gathering crowds waiting for Mogwai is less than amused by the bad ass attitude and quite crap remixes of La Roux that's on offer. The DJ and his MC are the only people to be annoyed as they're pulled from the stage, leaving a doozie of a finale. Mogwai are simply fantastic. Their self-introduction is a little superfluous, but for anyone who is unaware of them their expressive post-rock shoegaze is legendary in underground circuits and easily the rival of more established names as Sonic Youth. Though my time watching them is cut short, for what is seen is a dazzling mix of tumultuous volume and sonic delicacy as guitars rattle and glide across the night's air. A scary new sound for Tower Hamlets, but simply fantastic for everyone else.
In summary, yes, it rained. But if that was all that was got out of this then a head examination is called for. Such a fine blend of emerging and established artists in the same vein makes Field Day the rival to any 'alternative' festival. And it is only ever likely to grow in size and status. Whatever the result of that brings, I'll see you there next year.