FIELD DAY 2008 – Review

Posted on August 26th, 2008 by in Gig News, Reviews


By Tim Weissberg

Word association time. I say “Field Day 2007”, you, or at least most of the Field Day 2008 previews, say “teething problems.” Yes, you’ve probably heard it all by now – the toilet queues, the four bar staff spread between two bars and the three-hour crush to get one of them to serve you a drink. Ironically, the one thing you probably wouldn’t have heard was the music, especially when Justice, a duo not exactly known for their peaceful sets, took to the stage at the end of the night. Well at least it was sunny.

This year, Eat Your Own Ears promised it would be better and that there would be a professional company brought in to ensure the punters could hear the music, buy their drinks and then make room for more. Ok, thought the dubious public, let’s give in another try.

And then the heavens opened. Rain at a British festival is certainly nothing unusual and most people just got on with it as normal. The only problems arose when it really started to pour. Those people with umbrellas decided to put them up and those that didn’t made beelines for the tents. This provided me with two bugbears.

First off, the bloody umbrellas. Seriously, if you are going to a festival and it looks like rain, wear a waterproof with a hood, leave the umbrella at home. During Les Savy Fav, a band which centres its live shows around the visual antics of front man Tim Harrington, my view was entirely obscured by a sea of selfish umbrella wielders. Occasionally I caught a flash of the stage to see Harrington’s belly spilling out over his tight white jeans. The sound was about as good as the general view, no not the view of Tim’s fetching ginger-haired stomach, which indicated that maybe a few lessons from last year were still to be learned.

Second, the tents. Yes, they may be undercover, but they will not stretch to accommodate everyone looking for shelter. My attempt to see Crookers in the Bugged Out! tent was thwarted by everyone fleeing the umbrellas outside and piling into the already packed area. To add insult to injury, just as I’d fought my way through the tide and into the open, they went and dropped Wearing My Rolex by Wiley. What timing.

Right, after that slight excursion into self-indulgence, let’s get back to the event. The bar situation was infinitely better. There were more and they were big. The bar staff were not so good though. But then maybe I was asking for trouble by veering from the sensible festival drinks order of beer and cider. I’ve no idea what drinks I came away with but by that stage no one in my round seemed to mind. Red Bull Cola, on a side note, is disgusting and I can see why the more traditional cola drinks had run dry. Toilet-wise there still appeared to be a problem. This was indicated by the very long lines of women snaking out of the porterloo clusters and the extended periods of absence by female members of our group. At least that was their excuse. There was less of a problem for the men, especially since someone – official or not – had put a set or portable urinals in the woods by the bandstand.

From what I could gather, half of London’s police had been invited along. The place was crawling with them. Ok, I know that people will be of the view that the police are there for the good of everyone and if you’re not doing anything wrong then you’ve nothing to worry about, but when it gets to the stage where one of my friends is stopped and searched three times before even clearing the gates, maybe the presence was a little heavy handed. For the second time that day I also had my entry into the Bugged Out! tent blocked by crowds, this time all in uniform, looking like they were about to form a police cordon around the entire tent. I don’t know, maybe James Holden is particularly popular with the Met Police. His acid-dripping set certainly sounded amazing from outside.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom. The steam pouring out of the Bloggers Delight tent may have made it look as if it was on fire and inside, musically, it was. Mikki Most and Ian Robinson played a blinding set of upbeat electro that made any gripes about the day disappear.

The night was rounded off by Simian Mobile Disco’s live set in the Adventures In The Beetroot Field/NME tent. Again, it was ridiculously packed to begin with but the other headliners, such as Foals and Richie Hawtin, soon thinned the crowd down to a level where some upper body movement was possible as opposed to the rhythmic head bopping. Standing still, obviously, was not an option.

In conclusion, there were a lot of things right with Field Day 2008 but a few things were still wrong. Maybe next year, they’ll get it right. And, if this year’s line up is anything to go by, I’m sure I’ll be tempted, yet again, to give it a chance.

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