Now in its sixth year, East London’s Field Day festival has built its reputation on being one the best places to encounter brand new talent before it hits the mainstream.
This year, however, things are a little different. Not only has Field Day moved from its usual early August slot to avoid a clash with the Olympics, but the acts grabbing all the attention are slow burners breaking through on their second or third albums.
Take Grimes for example, whose quirky dream pop proves the day’s early hit. The artist otherwise known as Claire Boucher is going from strength-to-strength live, with tracks such as "Oblivion", taken from her recent third LP Visions, showing all the signs of someone allowed to grow at her own pace by record label of the moment, 4AD.
Another act very much in the ascendant is Metronomy, whose sun-drenched main stage performance, largely consisting of tracks from their Mercury Prize-nominated third album The English Riviera, draws the biggest crowd of the day.
Things are far less interesting over at the Shacklewell Arms stage, where the much-hyped Toy perform a dreary set of shoegaze-noise to a large, but generally unmoved crowd that had been hoping to witness that fabled beast: The Next Big Thing.
SBTRKT and Beirut are both hit by sound problems, the former’s post-dubstep throb cutting out completely, leading to a chorus of boos, the latter’s gentle folk drowned out by Sleigh Bells’ wall of amplification in the tent next door.
Sleigh Bells’ set is, incidentally, the best of the day, as their sublime heavy-metal-meets-indie-hip-pop sound is matched by a wildly energetic performance and a strobe-led light show that somehow makes a sprawling tent feel like an intimate club.
The Vaccines run Sleigh Bells close for band of the day however, with a set of pop punk anthems that feel familiar but far from tired, despite a year of relentless touring. As the rain begins to fall outside, the Laneway tent is fit to burst, but with genuine fans that know every word, rather than indifferent hordes sheltering from the weather.
Sadly, by the time festival headliners Franz Ferdinand take the open air main stage, the rain has really set in. The band battle on, performing crowd pleasers such as "Take Me Out" and "Michael" mid-set, alongside new material that lacks the knowing smarm that once saw them pick-up Pulp’s baton as indie‘s best loved cerebral sleazebags. As the weather takes it toll, the Field Day site looks more like Bosworth Field, with only die-hard Franz fans and wild-eyed casualties sticking around to brave the mud and hear the band close the festival with a blistering performance of "This Fire". Rained-out yes, but by no means a wash-out.