Girl Power

, 11 August 2011

Why take the time to plan a set list timetable for any festival, let alone Field Day?

The minute you step through the gates of the conveniently placed music showcase in Victoria Park of London’s east, you’ve already missed some of your acts and the crowds are cramming in to small capacity tents to see some of the most popular buzz bands of the moment. The line up is phenomenal, the organisation no so much. But all can be forgiven for bringing some of the best acts from the globe to our doorstep, literally. After a forty minute wait for a slowly moving throng of people trying to make it past the entrance, one is greeted by a bobby-hatted police officer and his dog. Ariel Pink’s bleach-dipped bangs and the Haunted Grafitti’s funky slap bass bobs above the heads blocking the view of their performance of  ‘Round and Round’.


Having missed Connan Mockasin and Sun Ra Arkestra at the significantly more spacious main stage, a return to the Quietus stage sees one off for the final two  tracks of Pink, who sounds infinitely better than accounts of the shambolic nature of his earlier lo fi days. Before too long the Laneway tent is packed with eager fans cheering Kai Campos of Mount Kimbie as he tunes his own guitar and sets up his own gear. In time the thundering ambient of the band fills the darkened tent, while dubstep fans churn through the packed throng to the almost tangible glitch and rhythm of ‘Before I Move Off’.

There’ll be no missing one of the few shows announced by a newly reunited  Electrelane, since going on a hiatus in 2007. There is minimal audience interaction from the reticent four-piece, who approach old material with the enthusiasm of a band five-years off the live circuit. That familiar keyboard of Verity Susman that had lead the band through four indie-popular albums, signals the beginning of their set during sound check, before Electrelane is  leading a sizable crowd swaying through the progressive rhythm of femininity before erupting over ‘On Parade’.

(the people from BCS grabbed a few takeaway shows from many artists @ FD)

Warpaint is to follow later at the same stage, proving their live performance and eye- candy appeal far exceeds the sometimes murky realms of pretty girl psychedelia they are on record. Playing almost back to back with Electrelane one can is struck by the similarities and differences between the two styles from either side of the Atlantic Ocean. Warpaint, an all girl pop group plunged into the blown out sunny surf pop of a US shoegaze disposition, Electrelane the gritty persistence of a country always on the move.

For Omar Souleyman back at the Q tent, one is led to wonder who is the real talent behind the name as his keyboardist/ right hand man produces  glitch track samples and exotic key sounds to accommodate for Souleyman’s cool disposition. He casually paces up and down the stage, in keffiyeh and dark sunglasses, unperturbed by the adulating hipster crowd that has raised him from Syrian, into international, stardom. A light flick of the wrist incites an enthusiastically dancing crowd’s applause, which only increases when pop hit ‘Leh Jani’ begins.

Omar @ the Q stage

 By dusk,  James Blake is entirely a no-go for late comers and it is up to Mercury Prize nominee, East-Londoner and the fashion world’s latest favourite Anna Calvi to top off a day of excellent music. Timidly stepping onto the stage in the characteristic androgyne of her  tango-inspired getup and hair tightly pulled back, Calvi is the image of that simultaneous  strength and vulnerability she is quickly becoming famous for.

Anna Calvi

Between the seductive allure of her booming vocals and the cavernous melody of her guitar, Calvi’s meek speaking voice barely reaches through the sound system between songs as she tells us, ‘This is Jezebel’. As if the crowd didn’t already know. Understated, yet overwhelming, she offers exposed sensuality in songs like ‘Desire’ and ‘Blackout’, easily confused but unmistakably of a superb debut album. As one unconvinced by The Horrors’ apparent transition from derivative garage ‘hair band’ to legitimate experimental outfit, this reviewer decides it best to leave Field Day bathed in the exquisite aura of Anna Calvi’s performance and make the short cycle home, well satisfied.

(all photos by sarahluv & tangentical