Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My first festival: Field Day

Saturday I spent the entire day in Victoria Park at my first festival, Field Day. For those of you who aren't aware, music festivals are part of the social fabric of Britain. Everyone goes to them, young and old, hipsters and fuddy-duddies, as there is a festival for every interest and subculture: rave, electropop, hip-hop, pop, indie, folk, dubstep – you name it, you can find a festival catering to it. If you can't make it to one, the biggies like Glastonbury and Reading are televised on the BBC. I've always wanted to go to a festival, but the requisite camping in certain-to-be-bad weather always put me off. The Irishman is a big fan of festivals, but at his age most of his mates are having babies and diaper changes aren't exactly suited to muddy fields and drunken revelers, so our festival-ready friends are sort of out of commission. Last year we contemplated going to Latitude, which I've heard is brilliant, but I didn't have that many days of holiday so we gave it a miss.

So when some of The Irishman's friends announced that they wanted to come up to London for Field Day, we decided to join in on the fun. Usually Field Day is 2 days, no camping but you can buy a ticket for either day or both, but with the Jubilee it was only the Saturday. A colleague of mine who was also attending gave me the official Field Day clashfinder so we could plan our day, and who we wanted to see on what stages. Below are my legs and my clashfinder, with my picks.

It was a great line up, so there were some tough compromises, but in the end we had a schedule that looked like this:

With that plan in mind, we headed over to Victoria Park to join in the festivities.

What I didn't realize about the festival was the carnival atmosphere. There was a himalaya ride! and giant swings! My favorite, which I didn't get a photo of, was the WI (Women's Institute) table where they were doing Dalston dip-dye hair treatments for free. No, I did not get one.

There were tons of food stands throughout the park, and even a Pimms truck!

The general feel of the festival was like a big fair, with massive movements of people between tents as sets finished and others started. There was even impressive festival fashion, like these guys:

The best acts were in the smaller tents, which actually felt like concerts and the crowds - though jampacked - were really into the music. Unfortunately, the main stage performances felt really far away and distant. Most people were talking through the music and not really engaging with the musicians. I think I enjoyed the main stage best during the afternoon when it was sunny and bright and you could lounge in the grass and soak up the atmosphere and music in a relaxed way.

At the end of the day, in true festival tradition, it started to rain. At first it was sprinkly and bearable, but towards the end of Beirut we were getting soaked and I was freezing. So we had to go and miss the final acts.

Overall, though, the day was really fun. I would definitely go back as for £50 we got to see a ton of great bands and discover some new ones too. Obviously there were queues for some subpar porta-potties, and overpriced beers, but the big flipside of Field Day is that you get to rock out all day and then go home and sleep in your own bed. Priceless.

*The Irishman and I were torn over which headliner to see: I wanted to relive the grrl power 90s and see Mazzy Star and he wanted to bounce around to Franz Ferdinand. We had agreed to decide in the moment but in the end we left so it was a draw.

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