Sunday, 10 August 2008

Field Day

I went to the second ever Field Day yesterday. Despite the constant rain, I had a terrific time.

But I would say that, while the organisers have impeccable taste in music, they clearly have no idea what to do with 10,000 people, because there were, once again, problems with the logistics of the event.

The organisers got tremendous flak last year for providing about four toilets and as many bar staff. This year, they can claim they got the number of bar staff right – I didn’t queue for longer than 2 minutes at any point.

Trouble is though, being served more beer makes trips to the toilet more regular and, once again, they were a shambles. To be fair, the male toilets were fine. The girls though, were forced to wait for up to 45 minutes. Smart girls had realised that the guys weren’t using the cubicles and were sneaking in amongst the men. The organisers cottoned on and decided that moving the cubicles and the surrounding wall would be a more intelligent move. It served no purpose other than to cause chaos for twenty minutes. If they’re to put the festival on for a third year, they need to be kinder to the ladies.

The biggest problem though, was the lack of communication about artist withdrawals and timetable changes. El Guincho, Cut Copy and Dirty Projectors all dropped out beforehand and, on the day, it turned out that Dan Deacon and Mystery Jets had done the same. Deacon had had his passport stolen and Blaine Harrison from Mystery Jets had complications with his spina bifida. Both have my sympathy, but the organisers really needed to tell us.

It meant Lightspeed Champion was bumped up to the main stage, which caused havoc with the smaller Homefires stage. Someone put up a hastily scribbled new timetable on an A3 sheet of paper by the stage, but unless you knew where to look - and given the amount of umbrellas, seeing the acts on the stage themselves was hard enough - that really wasn’t good enough. The changes also meant Jeff Lewis and Of Montreal clashed, which was seriously annoying.

The sound systems were a massive improvement on last year, though the shitty weather seriously tempered the enthusiasm of the crowd. On Homefires, Tunng and Jeffrey Lewis took advantage of a break in the rain to bring some joy to the soaked Londoners; on the main stage, only Laura Marling and Les Savy Fav managed to excite the masses. Under the shelter of tents, there was real enthusiasm for Brodinski, Mae Shi and Crookers. My day was made by Jeffrey Lewis's Crass-heavy set, Les Savy Fav living up to their reputation as one of the world's finest live acts and The Field putting on an insanely brilliant show.

Overall, I had a fabulous time, but with London’s weather so utterly unpredictable and Tom Baker’s team still not proving that they know what to do with 10,000 people, I’d be surprised if most people didn’t decide just to buy a ticket on the day next year.

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