Field Day is a yearly London festival, which is on its 10th year now. The festival specialises in electronic music, hip-hop, pop, indie and some other things here and there. This year the festival has some of the best artists from yesteryear, some of the best artists of recent years and some newbies who have all the potential to be greats. Naturally today was a great time.
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith kicks off today with ethereal, otherworldly synth music. These songs are hypnotic and coma inducing with mystical textures. When Smith brings her own vocals into play, they sound tribal, making it feel even more like we're in a fantasy forest.
Watching Abra feels like watching a star in the making. Despite only being second on the bill on one of today's smaller stages, there's a ton of people filling this tent up, dancing and singing along to her lush, bare and honest alternative R&B. Abra herself has shining stage presence, pulling funky moves and having a blast to her jams just like anyone else.
Legendary poet John Cooper Clarke might not be playing music, at this music festival, but he's got all the presence of a rock star, with his bitter, cynical poetry getting many laughs and people yelling his lines back to him. You'll go 'wow' at the genius of some of his lines just like you will any of the beats today.
Death Grips maintain their status as possibly the most dangerous band on the planet and maybe even the best. There's little that can be said about Death Grips that hasn't already been said, but their punked-up, noisy hip-hop sound and manic, depraved lyrics bring out everyone's inner animal. Naturally everyone is in berserker mode with each other for this set as people mercilessly slam into each other to the likes of the menacing 'No Love' and rampaging 'Hot Head.' Despite Field Day not having a whole lot of rock music, this might end up being the most metal set of the festival season.
Nicolas Jaar delivers a much-needed breather with his subdued, but intense techno. When his beats are firm, you can feel them shoot all through your body and take control. It's also nice the way he just wanders around the stage, singing in a monotone, post-punk-esque style, like he's a teacher giving a lecture. A lecture in the coolest, dark textures.
Flying Lotus is wonderful in every way. At the start of his set he humbly goes 'what a line-up. I guess I'll do my bit now' before delivering beats that most people would probably be a lot more arrogant with. Flying Lotus' signature sound of playing electronica with jazz technique, the way his bubbling beats are swinging with sophistication, always makes for sensational listening and today is no different as people get giddy at the likes of 'Theme' and 'Computer Face // Pure Being.' Also, his stage show is next-level with 3D patterns and images of beats. He even plays his recent cover of the Twin Peaks theme, which ups the chill factor and ensures that this is, excuse me, a damn fine show.
Now onto today's main event. Watching Aphex Twin play his first UK show in eight years, is like watching Jesus return. That might sound blasphemous, but Aphex Twin is godlike. This guy was the main pioneer of electronic music throughout the 90's, all the way from the minimal techno masterclass of 'Select Ambient Works 85-92' to classical-meets-breakbeats creative zenith, 'Drukqs.' He doesn't play a single song off any of these records. He doesn't play a single song that is recognisably Aphex Twin. If you're a super die-hard fan, you might recognise some tracks from other pseudonyms he makes music under, but there's nothing from the namesake that's presented today.
However, the material he does play takes you on such a journey that you don't even mind. Sure, it'd be awesome to hear 'Girl/Boy Song' or 'Star As You Mean To Go On' but he still manages to cover all the styles he's visited across the years, whether it be ambient, drill n bass, acid house or glitch and you're hooked the whole two hours he plays.
Also, Aphex Twin has always been an enigma and challenging, so a set like this stays true to the name. Whilst it'd perhaps be more enjoyable, just giving people what they want, would be a comfort zone for both the artist and the audience, which isn't what Aphex Twin is about.
It also helps that the light show and visuals are out of this world. This set was on the 'Barn' stage which is literally a gigantic barn, cramming in the thousands of people here to witness this legend. The lasers were so powerful looking, you'd be forgiven for thinking they were gonna cut this place open, the way they were so thick and violently bouncing up and down as well as sometimes zig zagging at ridiculous speeds. As for the stage, on several screens you'd have vibrating, wonky shapes as well as the iconic warped Aphex Twin face being stamped on the faces of crowd members, the cameras were picking up, as well as controversial figures like Katie Hopkins and Nigel Farage.
Truly and experience and one you're not going to forget any time soon.
Field Day 2017 was a wonderful day. Whether you were watching a legend, a newcomer or an artist distinctly of these times, there was often a feeling of heading to the future with this festival. That's simply because they had some of the freshest acts going, all in one place.
Check out Aphex Twin's set from Field Day:
Official Site - http://fielddayfestivals.com/