There was the moment on the Saturday evening of Field Day, as I stood amongst a bustling crowd of people chanting "RTJ" back to Killer Mike and El-P with their hands in the air mirroring the Run The Jewels signature fist and gun, when I realised just why Field Day is one of the most exciting UK festivals. It was one of those "this is why I love music" moments, when you just let yourself be taken away into the unknown or find yourself surrounded by hundreds of likeminded people. Field Day is all about making moments like that.

Gathered under the blazing sunshine in Victoria Park, feeling more like we were at a festival on the continent rather than in East London, were a diverse range of people from hip-hop fanatics to middle aged men in fading Ride t-shirts. Field Day's buffet of a line-up meant every single person was serviced in some way. You could go from a duo of music teachers playing smooth R&B to a DJ playing obscure African dance records to a four-piece playing blisteringly furious rock in an instant. You're spoiled for choice and, even if the names on the line-up might mean nothing to you, you're always a few feet away from discovering an incredible new band.



Saturday's line-up is one of a more idiosyncratic nature. The thrill of stumbling into a random tent and being blown away by something wildly different is around every corner. The afternoon began with Honne's sexy R&B slow jams; the noodling Prince-esque guitar solo of 'All In The Value' providing an early highlight. Tucked away in a small corner of the site, the soulful duo, backed by a more than enthusiastic live band, hypnotised the sizeable early afternoon crowd with a set packed with extremely polished and endlessly funky tunes.

If you were to follow your nose to the nearby Shacklewell Arms stage, you would've found yourself in the entrancing world of TĀLĀ. The air thick with the scent of cloves, citrus and a variety of other spices, it was already the best-smelling gig I'd ever been to; though competition wasn't exactly tough. This was no mere gimmick, however, as TĀLĀ, alone on stage with a tangle of samplers and drum machines, pounded out a sensational set that felt both grand and intimate, weaving Middle Eastern influences into contemporary R&B and electro tracks.


"Whether rapping about police brutality on 'Easy' or their successes on the braggadocios 'Blockbuster Night Part 1', Killer Mike and El-P never once took their foot off the accelerator."



After trying to eat an extremely messy but delicious crab burger whilst dancing to obscure African dance tunes courtesy of Awesome Tapes From Africa (a great experience but probably best to keep a lot of napkins handy), the evening began in true candy-coloured fashion. tUnE-yArDs, in full paint party mode, was as infectious as you might expect. Merrill Garbus, even in the shade of the Crack Magazine stage, was ready to bring the last of the day's glorious sunshine inside. Her barrage of odd-pop grabbed the crowd and shook them with questionable dance moves until their eyes lit up like fruit machines in a way that only delightfully weird tracks like 'Water Fountain' can.

It proved the perfect appetiser for Todd Terje's kaleidoscopic space-funk. Having graced Field Day last year, providing a festival highlight for me, he returned this year with The Olsens, his live band, in tow. Fleshed out by the existence of live drummers and flautists, anyone still on a sugary high from tUnE-yArDs would be ready to burst with excitement as Terje blasted through the irresistible cosmic disco of It's Album Time. Closing with rousing floor-filler 'Inspector Norse', accompanied by a troupe of colourful dancers, Terje cemented his position as a bonafide festival great.



As exciting as everything that preceded it was, the rest of the day paled in comparison to the furious energy that hit Victoria Park when Killer Mike and El-P took to the stage. Dealing out their fiery, politicised lyrics in an enduringly charismatic manner to a crowd that are hanging on to their every word, this was Run The Jewels at their peak. Whether rapping about police brutality on 'Easy' or their successes on the braggadocios 'Blockbuster Night Part 1', Killer Mike and El-P never once took their foot off the accelerator. Though 'Love Again' perhaps doesn't works as well here, having omitted the Gangsta Boo verse which reduces it to a chance for the crowd to sing back some filthy lyrics, Run The Jewels well and truly made their mark as the most exciting rap duo of the moment.

If there's one thing wrong with a varied line up, it's that the headliners aren't always going to appeal to everyone, as much of the audience (at least where I was) made clear during Caribou's headline set on the main stage. It almost seemed as though they didn't realise a band was even playing, the amount of chattering that was going on; people clearly not that interested in one of the most exciting names in electronic music.


"The narrowed down line-up and smaller site means there's no sense of rush, with crowds of people just lazing in the sun..."



Regardless, Dan Snaith and his live band (including Owen Pallett) powered through a set of euphoric dance tunes full of heart. Taken exclusively from Swim and Our Love, the set list wasn't about quantity but quality, Snaith et al building on the foundations of the album tracks to create 10-15 minute long epics. Suddenly my complaints about the crowd were washed away as I found myself entranced by truly beautiful rearrangement s of tracks like 'Your Love Will Set You Free' and a majestic extended version of 'Sun' to close the day in superb style.

With the sun still shining bright, Victoria Park looked as good as new by Sunday. Gone is any evidence of the chaos of the night before, prepped for a more chilled-out affair. The narrowed down line-up and smaller site means there's no sense of rush, with crowds of people just lazing in the sun, taking it all in. It's the perfect way to brush off Saturday night's hangover and proof that sometimes it's good not to stuff your line-up too full.




Ex Hex and Viet Cong's ferociously exciting riffs and barrage of noise do a great job of blasting away those morning-after cobwebs, both clearly having a great time in the face of a fair few audio gremlins. Viet Cong devoted much of their set to the titanic 'Death', building and building the textured wall of noise until it sounded like a collision between Joy Division and Swans, which made for a great substitute to the morning coffee I'd skipped.

If ever there were someone more suited to the blazing sunshine and the relaxed vibe of Sunday, it's Mac DeMarco. Guitarist Andrew Charles White found himself fighting against plenty of tech problems, but De Marco and his band took it in their stride with their typical lackadaisical self-deprecation. Never once does it feel put on; these guys really are the goofballs you see on stage. With improvised solos, speedy quips and, when things worked, sun-dappled slacker rock tunes, this is a set so laid-back that even when chaos ensues, they're still charming as hell.



Savages proved almost the direct opposite of De Marco's nonchalance, commanding the Shacklewell Arms stage with a blisteringly tight set of spiky intoxicating post-punk. Newer tracks from the upcoming second LP such as 'Sad Person' and 'Slowing Down The World' feel like a bolshier, more self-assured Savages. Not that they didn't ooze confidence before, the likes of 'Husbands' and 'She Will' sounding as fresh as ever, but now they've tied the screw so tight that it feels like there's no stopping them.

And yet, as great as the weekend has been for the youngsters trying to make their mark, it's up to a true icon to show everyone how it's done. By the time Patti Smith takes to the stage to rocket through her groundbreaking 1975 debut album, Horses, there's a notable shift in the air. People start picking themselves off of the ground, rushing back from the bars or the toilet queues, ready to witness a legend do what she does best. It often feels a bit trite to band around the word "legend" but, over the course of her set, Patti Smith proves exactly why she's earned that title. Self-effacing, funny and, once the epic 'Lands' rolls around, still full of that same urgency and determination that made her a name in the first place, Smith commands that stage. We as an audience are in the palm of her hand, worshipping at the altar of a true punk god who shows no sign of slowing down. With moments of genuine reflection, dedicating 'Elegie', originally written in memory of Jimi Hendrix, to lost loved ones everywhere including her late husband Fred "Sonic" Smith, and moments of sheer rapture, such as in set opener 'Gloria', this was a set to remember.


"Field Day is a festival that manages to celebrate the new whilst also paying tribute to those that came before in equal measure."



In comparison, Ride seem like unlikely headlines for the festival yet, judging by the number of Ride t-shirts dotted around, they clearly have the devoted fanbase for it. Having not played together in almost twenty years, the '90s shoegaze luminaries make a glorious return with something of a greatest hits setlist. 'Vapour Trail' is a time-machine back to the days of '90s neo-psychedelia with its baggy drum beat and swirling guitars whilst 'Dreams Burn Down' is every bit the shoegaze juggernaut it was in 1990. It might not have been as exciting or as special as Patti Smith, but they put on a solid show to bring the curtain down on yet another fantastic Field Day.

Field Day is a festival that manages to celebrate the new whilst also paying tribute to those that came before in equal measure. Whereas most other festivals define themselves by a niche, the diversity is what defines Field Day; not afraid to put on iconic hip-hop legends next to the latest electropop wunderkind. As the festival goes from strength to strength, ironing out those kinks that inevitably plague it along the way, Field Day is firmly planting its flag as one of the most exciting UK festivals.



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