I’ve always had a soft spot for Field Day fes­ti­val: its cura­tors have form in entic­ing less­er-seen artists onto their fes­ti­val stages, such as Mazzy Star’s mem­o­rable set in 2012. Field Day’s move this year from Vic­to­ria Park to the con­sid­er­ably small­er Brock­well Park has not been with­out its issues – from pre-event con­cerns from the local com­mu­ni­ty to sub­se­quent overcrowding.

Both fes­ti­val days, Fri­day and Sat­ur­day, were bright and sun­ny, mak­ing the fes­ti­val’s tran­si­tionary year eas­i­er. I attend­ed on the Sat­ur­day. Nils Frahm, Mount Kim­bie and Zhu were on my list, but the Barn and Crack tents were far too rammed to enjoy the sets properly.

Field Day prides itself on offer­ing more than just music, there’s also the Vil­lage Men­tal­i­ty area with school sports day activ­i­ties such as egg and spoon races, a com­fort­ing tea and home made cake stall and even a sewing les­son tent, all con­tribut­ing to a pleas­ant­ly socia­ble vibe. But with­out the lux­u­ry of the pre­vi­ous park’s space, every­thing was forced into uncom­fort­ably close prox­im­i­ty, at times it all felt more like a fair­ground than a festival. 

The open-air Eat Your Own Ears main stage was def­i­nite­ly the place to be to ful­ly enjoy a set, with a gen­tle slope which allowed for more of the crowd to view the stage. Ear­ly after­noon, Malian super­star Oumou San­garé and her band played a won­der­ful, joy­ous and upbeat set. 


It was the promise of see­ing Char­lotte Gains­bourg that had ini­tial­ly drawn me to Field Day. Gains­bourg sidles onto the stage look­ing as if she’s wish­ing she’d worn an invis­i­bil­i­ty cloak. She swoops into her place at the elec­tric piano. After a wob­bly first few moments in which her vocals sound lost in the mix, adjust­ments are made and her voice devel­ops a strength and confidence.


After a hand­ful of num­bers, includ­ing the rav­ish­ing Sylvia Says from 2017 album Rest, Gains­bourg ris­es from the key­board to saunter out to the front of the stage; rather than engage with the crowd she keeps her eyes fixed in the far dis­tance, at the trees or the sky… but there’s a smile of approval too from this cool, beguil­ing per­former. Mid-set she plays Dead­ly Valen­tine which sounds, as on the record­ed ver­sion, mes­meris­ing and sul­try. This is a beau­ti­ful, shim­mery set from Gains­bourg and a rare treat from this very occa­sion­al performer. 

Charlotte Gainsbourg at Field Day_gourmetgigs.com


charlotte gainsbourg at Field Day_gourmetgigs.com


Field Day has had some bumpy moments over the years but has man­aged to keep going with stel­lar line­ups and an abil­i­ty to lure artists who are less inclined to per­form reg­u­lar­ly, such as Gains­bourg and the afore­men­tioned Hope San­doval of Mazzy Star. Hope­ful­ly it can rec­on­cile the changes it has had to make this year and will see its way for­ward for 2019. 

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