Field Day, Victoria Park, London

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The Independent Culture

Despite the prediction of rain, Victoria Park is a dry dust bowl on Saturday, ready to be filled with London's musically in-the-know hipsters. There aren't a lot of big names – but it's a great place to catch acts on the up.

I begin with a band I stumbled across last year: folk reinventors Erland and the Carnival. They're more confident now, and rockier, delivering a taut, tuneful set.

Holly Miranda's beautiful, smoky vocals rise over murky guitars, and the American singer-songwriter has a self-contained but commanding stage presence.

The much frothed-over Egyptian Hip Hop prove they can match the hype. Their best tracks mix Eighties synth melodies with funky riffs, live drumbeats and deadpan vocals. The teens are unsigned, but surely not for long.

The Fall, by contrast, are elder statesmen of the festival. While the band is tight, front man Mark E Smith really isn't. Sure, he never exactly had the most dulcet of tones, but the half-spoken, atonal slurrings are now quite painful.

Gruff Rhys's collaboration with protest singer Tony da Gatorra is another disappointment. While the Super Furry Animals front man's singing and strumming is nice enough, Da Gatorra's fuzzed-out-guitar-meets-drum-machine invention and another so-bad-it-hurts vocal performance makes the act hard to love.

Fortunately, the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble are less complex. The nine-piece brass/hip-hop ensemble bounce around the stage like exuberant puppies, choreographing their horn-playing. They whip up the crowd too, all hands in the air.

Bringing things down a notch is Atlas Sound, a slight young man with an acoustic guitar, mouth organ and a host of effects pedals. From these he coaxes heartfelt, atmospheric slow-burners, with a voice that stays on just the right side of whiny and occasionally veers into wonderful.

Silver Apples is one for the sonic geeks: Sixties psych-rock pioneer Simeon bends over the knobs and dials of his synthesiser, drawing out spacy squeals that would put the Doctor Who theme to shame.

Phoenix have enough Gallic cool to keep the hipsters feeling hip, while the hooked, pop-infused melodies are pleasingly danceable. The band look like they're having a good time too, pulling shapes or climbing the scaffolding, as front man Thomas Mars does to sing "Countdown" – a highlight towards the end of their set.

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