One of the biggest annual events in London alternative music is Field Day, the 35,000 capacity festival held in Bow’s Victoria Park. It’s one of the most impressive lineups around, and to give you a little taste, whether you’re attending or not, here’s some live videos of the 20 best artists playing, and their stage times.
Julia Holter 12:30pm, BleeD Music stage
In this video, there’s something ethereal and untouchable about the shadowed figure of Julia Holter, lurking just beyond her music while also inhabiting it wholly. It’s this quality of both immediacy and distance that characterises her art; she’s somehow other-worldly, far from tangible, and yet she’s right here, and she’s singing to you. She’s incredible, and she’s definitely unmissable.
Koreless 1.15pm, Bugged Out! stage
Koreless makes largely immersive and introspective music that invites wordless, thoughtful awe; far from rendering him a dull live performer, this gives his sets a deep, insightful edge that reflects, and connects with, his audience’s mood. He’s an understated performer, but his brooding and booming sound is not to be missed.
Peaking Lights 2.45pm, BleeD Music stage
Opening with a shuffling apology for the “technical things” that have to be worked out, this video inadvertently exposes the moments of quiet appreciation and focus that settle warmly over a Peaking Lights set. Attention to detail brings a performance like this, with all its intermingling sounds, to complete, orchestral life; on Saturday, prepare to be struck by their impossible musical balancing act, and the charm with which they pull it off.
Rustie 3.15pm, Bugged Out! stage
Being in a room with Rustie’s music is frantic and futuristic, begging you to zap and whoosh around like a hyperactive eight year old. Childish in its playful mining of electronic sounds from across the spectrum, as well as in its sheer energy and potential, Rustie’s set will be one that runs rings around you.
Django Django 3.50pm, Village Mentality stage
On a stage that holds practically twice the amount of instruments as it does musicians, not to mention a cacophony of voices, there’s bound to be something to grab your attention. Django Django in performance come across as a hyper-creative bunch of people tweaking, crooning and banging at stuff with some pretty astounding results. If you want something that will jangle and wobble all around you until you’re practically forced to dance, this is the place you’ll be.
Blawan 4.00pm, Bugged Out! stage
The ferocity and aggression of Blawan’s sound is reason enough in itself that you’ll probably be pulled magnetically into his set on Saturday. In fact, his gut-wrenching, sensation-fuelled music and instinctive taste will probably give you no place to hide.
dEbruit 1.10pm, Red Bull Music Academy stage
French producer dEbruit is known for being tangential and unconventional, and so his unique blender approach is bound to lend itself to a restlessly, exhaustively good set. Expect the clatter of perfectly clashing cultural sounds and the clamour of dancing bodies.
Zulu Winter 5.10pm / Shacklewell Arms stage
Everything about this video makes you want to be outside and dancing with Zulu Winter. The restless, hungry performance, the delicious voice, the hook that just won’t quit. This London-based band wrote their entire debut album before they ever played a gig, and it’s patience and dedication like that that pays off with a truly special live experience.
Hudson Mohawke 5.15pm / Bugged Out! stage
Crudely bold and brilliant, the distinctive blare of Hudson Mohawke’s live performance will be an unmistakable centrepiece of Field Day’s line up. From hyperactive re-works of R&B gems like the one above, to the familiar thump of the Satin Panthers EP, you can expect big, bright and brash music; not a second of the Glaswegian artist’s set will be dull.
Kindness 5.20pm, Laneway Festival stage
Recorded here at SXSW for Dummy, Kindness – or Adam Bainbridge – is an electric live performer, bringing an 80s club sound to a 2012 festival clamour. Amped-up with female backing dancers and some swagger, the newly-revamped hi-fi act is one that will be worth your attention.
Laurel Halo 5.30, BleeD Music stage
Shrouded here in ominous blue light and a mane of her own hair, Laurel Halo expresses a formidable mastery in her creation of a swarming synth masterpiece live. Calmly and powerfully, she takes a room in her hand, gripping onto it through sheer impressive sound until her final notes pale away.
Jessie Ware 5.50pm Red Bull Music Academy stage
If you need one reason to want to catch Jessie Ware’s live set on Saturday, it’s the same reason that cuts through the above video clip – taken from her first headline show earlier this year – with an obvious, searing clarity. It’s that voice. With powerful command and a sumptuous, fleshed-out entirety, Ware’s voice is one that will draw crowds from every corner of the festival; if you want more reasons than that, you won’t have to listen long to find them.
Grimes 6.15pm, Village Mentality stage
2012 belongs to Grimes. With a pretty large catalogue of three albums and a sudden level of mainstream attention that makes the whole world hungry for her, any performance of hers is likely to be exhilarating from start to finish, not to mention as expressive and charming as she typically is.
Metronomy 6.40pm, Eat Your Own Ears stage
It’s hard to imagine there being a more apt experience for a mellow Saturday afternoon in June than listening to Metronomy play their blissful hit ‘The Bay’. If this song isn’t capable of instantly taking your mind on holiday, then it probably just isn’t possible. Performing here on Jools Holland’s BBC show, their sound is as smooth and polished as ever, and only needs to meet the elation of a live, bustling audience to top it off.
Chairlift 7pm, Red Bull Music Academy stage
Chairlift may not be planning to repeat their startling cover of Beyonce’s ‘Party’ at Field Day, but as long as they’re planning to repeat their joyful, spontaneous attitude to performance, their breathlessly good vocals and their sense of humour, theirs will be a set worth watching.
SBTRKT 7.40pm, Bugged Out! stage
Seen here in a massive venue, SBTRKT has a sound that even so inescapably skitters and swoops all around the vicinity, and will keep doing so around your head all day. The trademark mask will be the only thing predictable about this set; this producer likes to keep you guessing, and keep you wanting, and so seeing him live is always a new, excitable experience.
Zomby 8pm, BleeD Music stage
Zomby’s will-he / won’t-he stage show mythology can sometimes belie the fact he is one of electronic music’s most fascinating live performers with one of the strongest hard-drives in music. Sometimes sardonically non-committal, sometimes furiously engaged, he is one of this generation’s truest artists, and one that has to be seen.
Beirut 8.20pm, Eat Your Own Ears stage
Nothing says “summer’s here!” like the irrepressibly chirpy twang of a ukulele, and no one does better at encapsulating that than Santa Fe band Beirut. Infused with a heady brass section and the nostalgic vocals of Zachary Condon, the band’s sound has been recorded in every location from their bedrooms to the middle of a desert; but what’s most impressive is how they bring that balance of intimacy and expansiveness to their touching live performances.
Gold Panda 8.45pm, Village Mentality stage
There’s something elegant and wistful about Essex producer Gold Panda’s music, and that’s a feeling that’s replicated in the concentrated, virtuoso performance given in the video above. For a set that’s pure escapism, pure “wow”, this is the one; this is awestruck, wide-eyed music to have beautiful thoughts to.
Modeselektor 9.40pm Bugged Out! stage
Also bringing a bold, brassy streak of electronic mayhem to the festival are German duo Modeselektor, whose impeccable and immense live shows are usually phenomenal in both sight and sound. Find yourself in the middle of their heaving crowd, and be swallowed whole by their their eclectic explosion of techno, house and electro.