Festival watch – Field Day 2016

PJ Harvey, DJ Koze and John Grant were among an array of performers who shrugged off the gloomy weather to shine in east London’s Victoria Park

The vibe

The Saturday was largely defined by the monsoon-style weather. People cowered under tents. The Shacklewell Arms stage got so flooded that, the next day, it had to be moved. Sodden and covered in mud, festival-goers looked crestfallen. But it did add something of a Blitz spirit to the proceedings, with people sharing umbrellas and commiserations. The drier and more guitar-heavy Sunday had a palpable 90s feel, with the Brian Jonestown Massacre, dungarees and Bez-style tambourine-playing all making appearances.

The crowd

Weaving between exotic-food vans and craft ale tents, the east London hordes sported a combination of black leather, glitter, ironic T-shirts and peroxide hair with rainbow streaks. EU referendum “I’m in” stickers were the weekend’s must-have fashion accessory. Random celebrity spot: Jack Gleeson, better known as Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones.

Regal presence: Jack Gleeson, better known as King Joffrey Baratheon in the TV drama Game of Thrones
Regal presence: Jack Gleeson, better known as King Joffrey Baratheon in the TV drama Game of Thrones. Photograph: Helen Sloan/2016 Home Box Office

Best act

For a lineup as eclectic as this, choosing just one would feel churlish. A natural highlight was a saxophone-wielding PJ Harvey, dressed in green feathers and accompanied by a nine-man marching band. For serious early-afternoon beats, DJ Koze at the Resident Advisor tent was the place to be (although a stage-time swap meant we accidentally missed Skepta). Fat White Family delivered a typically electrifying set complete with on-stage masturbation. On Sunday, John Grant’s melodic, uplifting tunes and bone-dry lyrics were especially poignant after the previous night’s events in Orlando.

And the worst

Sorry, Mount Kimbie DJ set. You happened during a particularly bleak rainy interlude and the people who sought shelter under your tent looked cold, wet and miserable. The slightly downbeat, if sophisticated, tunes didn’t help.

Festivalgoers shelter from the rainy weather
Festivalgoers shelter from the rainy weather. Photograph: Richard Isaac/REX/Shutterstock

Best discovery

Not a discovery as such, but Nao’s warm, funky R&B combined smooth vocals with seemingly effortless experimentation. Slimzee’s high-energy DJ set at the bandstand was fun, too.

Best dressed

A man decked in a tight, bright green jumpsuit (think the Queen’s neon green dress at her 90th) topped with a green bumblebee head, staging a mock mini-protest and brandishing a placard that read: “Earth Must Exit Milky Way”.


One young festival-goer was heard saying: “You’re going to see Thurston Moore? But he’s, like, 55.” She would have been horrified to learn he is, in fact, 57.

Best tweet by someone famous

Sleaford Mods, who headlined the Crack stage on Saturday, tweeted: “Thank you to @fielddaylondon for inviting us. Was a good gig. Clean Loos too. Real.” Field Day gnomically replied: “Thank you for playing – here’s some people eating carrots.” Separately, Clean Bandit’s Neil Milan tweeted (between multiple emojis):

broke into field day in my pyjamas & saw James Blake ❤️☺️❤️☺️ this is how it's supposed to b ✊🏽🌍🌰 also I saw ariana in the same day hehe

— Neil Milan (@neil_milan) June 11, 2016


Kathryn Bromwich

The GuardianTramp

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