A Field Day Q&A: Tom Baker on London's newest festival
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What’s that, looming on the horizon? Why, it’s another new festival, threatening to steal custom away from the other 3,459 day-long-or-more events clogging up the calendars of music lovers nationwide. But before you run the other way, fearing cold stir-fry noodles, ankle-deep slurry and yet another go-nowhere set from Damian Fucking Rice, wait a second: Field Day is a) pretty blimmin’ special, and b) right on your doorstep. Well, so long as your doorstep’s in London, anyway. DiS’s is. Get in.
Field Day – billed as ‘London’s new psychedelic summer fete’ – takes place at Victoria Park, E9 (that’s over Hackney way… Radiohead once played in a tent there… I went!), on August 11. That’s this Saturday! Tickets are all but gone for the noon-‘til-10.30pm event – a search, just now, revealed nowt but ‘check back later’ messages. So what we’re saying is: if you’ve not got a ticket by now, you’re never getting one. Which is a shame as the line-up includes:
1990s, Adem, Alberta Cross, Archie Bronson Outfit, Bat For Lashes, Battles, Caribou, Chromeo, Electrelane, Erol Alkan, Euros Childs, Fanfarlo, Fence Collective present 3 Craws, Foals, Four Tet, Fridge, GoodBooks, Gruff Rhys, James Yorkston, Justice, Kid Harpoon, Late Of The Pier, Laura Marling, Liars, Matthew Dear, Mystery Jets, Pull Tiger Tail, The Aliens, The Concretes, The Earlies, Vetiver… and more
The Eat Your Own Ears-organised all-dayer is something of a treat, then. It sure as heck pishes all over London’s other single-day ‘festival’, the hugely branded mediocrity bash that was Wireless (White Stripes and Daft Punk aside, the 2007 edition of the annual Hyde Park do was a bit of a non-event). DiS caught up with Field Day head-honcho Tom Baker – he who also runs EYOE – for a little Q&A ahead of the event.
Hi Tom. When did the idea for Field Day first spring to mind, and is this event the first of what will become an annual fixture in your opinion? Just how long has it taken, in total, to pull this whole thing together?
Me and my girlfriend put together a free event a few years back outside the Griffin pub in Old Street for 1,000 people a day over a summer weekend called Return Of The Rural. It was a village fete with live acoustic acts like James Yorkston and Beth Orton alongside acts like Clinic and Four Tet. Marcus Weedon, who ran the Griffin, was very much involved in making the event happen, so after the success of this we all thought we should do something bigger and on a grander scale.
A year later Marcus confirmed the use of Victoria Park and I drew up a list of people I thought should be involved - Adventures In The Beetroot Field, Bugged Out, Bloggers Delight and Homefires - so we have a strong network to promote the event through. I then started drawing up all the bands I wanted to play and started talking to agents. Field Day was announced and it has now sold out, which is incredible.
Were there any other festivals – be they day-long or otherwise – that set something of a model for Field Day? Or do you see the event as something wholly new and unique?
No, not really. I felt there is a thirst for live music events which don't just follow the usual obvious programming, and that have a twist. I have tried to be open to booking new acts, and to mix genres and musical styles a bit more than usual. And then the village fete vibe brings something different as well.
The line-up’s eclectic to say the least – was there any particular theme to the event you wanted, or is it something of an excuse to bring some of your favourite acts together in one place?
I wanted to bring as many of the acts I love and work with to one event and do it for a cheap as possible ticket.
Were there any acts you really wanted but missed out on this year?
Bright Eyes would have been amazing. Also Björk, The Mars Volta and Aphex Twin. Next year, next year!
What confirmed acts, in particular, are you really excited about seeing on a Field Day stage?
Battles, Liars and the Fence guys are always brilliant. And we’ve got Fridge's first show in five years!
Field Day is billed as a ‘Psychedelic Summer Fete’ – just what other attractions, bands aside, can you promise punters, then? And will we all have to be blotto to enjoy them…?!
There’s a hog roast, and you can try your luck on the coconut shy or tombola. Or, you can get befuddled mixing pear cider with barn dancing by the Band Stand. We’ve also got our own jumble sale, a tug of war competition and Welly Golf...
What are your favourite festivals right now? There seems to be more of them than ever this summer, which you can either see as a blessing or a curse, I guess. Do you believe the market for medium-sized festivals – the End of the Road-sized events – is becoming rather saturated, what with the arrival of events like Latitude and (the recently cancelled) Lodestar, not to mention the increased profile of Bestival…?
I agree - Glastonbury is always special and it's another world. And Manchester International Festival was really exciting this year with some really innovative events and new works. It was very brave and did a lot of things most festivals would not dare to do.
Is Field Day an event that you could see expanding if this year’s debut offering is a success? Whether it be size-wise or a move to make the event a two or three day festival…
I would hope so, yes. I would like to see it grow in size and maybe happen regionally. I like the fact it’s one day: it’s just focused on an intense musical experience.
Finally, if there’s anyone out there yet to buy a ticket but considering it, what can you say to them to twist their arm into making the (relatively inexpensive) purchase they should?
Well it’s sold out now, but just the mix of acts and being able to see Pictish Trail then Justice then Four Tet and more for £22.50 is a steal!
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