Merry dance: two festivalgoers combat the rain. Photograph: Carolina Faruolo

In the ten years since Field Day first pitched up in East London the festival has gone from strength to strength, growing in size and status, but never failing to live up to its reputation for fantastic line-ups.

It’s a humid start to Saturday, but an afternoon downpour brings festival-goers running for cover in the Shacklewell Arms tent where Meilyr Jones is thrashing about in time with his baroque-pop stompers.

When the rain clears it’s a slippery walk over to Skepta on the main stage, and judging by the state of a few of mucky bottoms the mud has already claimed its first victims.

Aside from some initial technical issues, Skepta plays a blinder. From opener ‘Konnichiwa’, the mosh pit is heaving, singing every word in perfect synchronicity, and ‘Shutdown’ threatens crowd collapse.

Main stage follow-ups Deerhunter seem in high spirits as they crack on with a varied setlist from records old and new, including ‘Dream Captain’ and ‘Snakeskin’.

By tea time the Moth Club tent is bursting with bodies getting their early-evening boogie on to Ata Kak, and as twilight settles over Resident Advisor, Holly Herndon’s set is in full flow.

With a moving dedication to Chelsea Manning, it’s a compulsive, moreish performance from Herndon, full of bass and hungering voices.

James Blake’s headline slot manages to maintain the songwriter’s trademark intimacy – no mean feat given the size of the crowd that has gathered to watch him.

It’s a quiet start with ‘Limit To Your Love’ and ‘Retrograde’ both making early appearances, but the tranquillity is soon overhauled by the arrival of Trim for an intense performance of ‘Confidence Boost’, before the set winds down into a rapturous ‘The Wilhelm Scream’.

James Blake - Carolina Faruolo
Headliner: James Blake. Photograph: Carolina Faruolo

By Sunday afternoon, the park has been transformed into a mire. Where yesterday trainers and plimsolls were de rigeur, there’s been a clear shift into the Wellington boot camp.

There’s much squelching afoot at a frenetic Parquet Courts show on the main stage where Andrew Savage’s staccato bark manages to shake some life into the rain-fuddled field, and over at the Shacklewell Arms, Cass McCombs’ stylistic shapeshifting manages to draw out some lunchtime sunshine.

Fat White Family achieve an incendiary blowout, cleaving their way through ‘Whitest Boy On The Beach’ ‘Is It Raining In Your Mouth’ and ‘Touch The Leather’ like a pneumatic drill through concrete.

A bellowing Lias Saoudi plays master of ceremonies over a flurry of dancing, shrieking and ripped t-shirts, in nothing but a pair of navy y-fronts.

Brian Jonestown Massacre’s set turns similarly surreal when Newcombe’s desire to hear the crowd shout “Pigfucker” in unison brings out a rainbow across the stage.

The Avalanches was a rather disappointing affair. What was billed as a show turns out to be a DJ set during which more than a few confused audience members can be heard asking when The Avalanches are supposed to be on. Air on the other hand are sublime.

Godin and Dunckel are on fine form, playing an intoxicating mix of their essential tracks, with ‘Playground Love’ and an elaborate ‘La Femme D’Argent’ inciting a head-spinning euphoria that could turn bones to butter.

Sunday night headliner PJ Harvey is every bit the spectacle, bedecked in black feathers and backed by a nine-man band.

Harvey plays some truly transcendent renderings of ‘Down By The Water’ and ‘River Anacostia’ before bringing the weekend to a thundering close with a glorious encore of ‘A Perfect Day Elise’.

It’s a fitting end to a triumphant decade for Field Day, and a great foot upon which to start the next ten years.

PJ Harvey. Photograph: Carolina Faruolo
PJ Harvey. Photograph: Carolina Faruolo

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.