Field Day 2017 @ London, 03/06/2017

Field Day 2017Field Day 2017 have certainly pulled out all the stops this year. Squeezing a jam-packed line-up into one day with no less of the talent makes for a manic day of techno, indie, and all that sits between. Bagging Aphex Twin as a headliner must have been no easy feat and to accommodate him, they’ve revealed a new 15,000 capacity stage called The Barn, equipped with intense lighting effects and a huge sound system. Impressed is an understatement.

Methyl Ethel kicks off the festival at the Shacklewell Arms tent. Producing a shimmery dream pop soundscape, their jangly guitars make for a rousing start to the day. Singer and guitarist, Jake Webb, is every bit as awkward as you’d imagine him to be with his rigid movements and unique voice. But this just heightens the intrigue as the Australian trio hit the mark with their psych rock blend.

Next up is the enthralling Haelos. Since seeing them at Bristol’s intimate Louisiana last year, they’ve developed a maturity while maintaining the same levels of cool calm. Their ambient melody carries around the whole Field Day main stage making for huge levels of enjoyment sat down on the grass soaking up some vitamin D (very much unlike last year’s rain, I might add). Haelos are the perfect festival band, with just the right parts Portishead, Air, and The xx.

It wouldn’t be Field Day 2017 without some kind of farm-themed game at the Village Fete end of the park. This year is no exception, opting to milk a fake cow while timed with the overall prize at the end of the day being three Aphex Twin albums. One of which appears to be a Field Day exclusive, which I later find sold out at 2pm and are now being sold on eBay for incredulous amounts of money.

Otherworldly Flamingods are on next. Adorned with ornate clothing from all walks of life, they certainly fit the bill for world music from a whole host of cultures and backgrounds. Instruments aplenty too, they fill the Shacklewell Arms tent with the cheery liveliness and weird energy we’ve come to expect. Switching instruments and roles on stage like there’s no tomorrow keeps the dynamic exciting with different vocals and worldly soundscapes at every change of track.

Working our way to The Barn for Jon Hopkins, you get a real glimpse at the immensity of the new venue. Field Day 2017 have stepped up a notch with the addition, which actually played home to Eric Prydz’s EPIC 5.0 show only a week before. The huge space is already full, with lasers beaming around the venue emphasising the sheer enormity of it all. Mixing his ambient electronica and floaty dreaminess with techno beats and bass, Jon Hopkins delivers a refined set.

Equally as captivating, Nicholas Jaar is at The Barn next with his unique take on techno with Chilean influences of jazz and electronica. Now renowned for his quirky mix of scattered textures and melodies, he keeps the cataclysmic tempo up at The Barn all in preparation for Aphex Twin’s headline slot later.

There’s no doubt that Run The Jewels know how to work a crowd. The main stage is kitted out for the hip-hop headliners with the iconic trademark of hands hanging above them as they come out to Queen’s “We Are The Champions”. It gets rowdy enough at one point that Killer Mike has to shout, “if you touch her, and she doesn’t want you to, we’re gonna beat your fucking ass” at the arising mosh pit. It’s a jumping set, to say the least, with the impassioned duo rapping a mix of tracks from the latest release, RTJ3, and some of the true crowd favourites.

The act everyone is here to see though is Aphex Twin. Richard D. James’ long-awaited return to the UK (it’s been five years but who’s counting) has been a massive drawing point for Field Day goers bringing the festival into an elevated height of interest. Approaching The Barn stage, it’s already absolutely packed. Staff are even holding signs displaying ‘TENT FULL’ in a bid to coax people away, but it’s not stopping anyone.

As the insane light show begins, The Barn is fully illuminated in all its glory, it’s immense hangar-like construction accommodating 15,000 people. In an intense collaboration between sound and light, Aphex Twin’s set is one for the senses. The mixing is scattered, chopping and changing between genres and unnerving textures. At some points, it’s just white noise and weird, to say the least. The lasers are choreographed to the weirdness perfectly, blasting through the massive venue with screens displaying the Aphex Twin logo as well as faces from the front row of the crowd, and even Neil Buchanan from Art Attack at one point. Unsettling, confusing but a whole lot of fun, the range of acid house, techno, jungle, and who knows what else, is the spine-tingling comeback we were waiting for but certainly couldn’t have predicted. With the feeling that you were witness to something special, Field Day have done it so right.

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