Field Day: Heat, Coolio, guitars, fun times

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There aren’t many reasons to drag yourself from your pit of hungover despair on New Years Day. The chance to go and hang in a field with Coolio, however, is one. It certainly was for many people anyway, as his 1.30pm show at Sydney’s Field Day attracted a sizeable crowd for that time of day. Flanked by his nephew on MC duties, a saxophonist and a backing track, he (pictured below) seemed very keen to let us all know that he was still making new music. He threw CDs into the crowd while his nephew slipped the url of his website into songs. Let’s be honest though, there was one reason and one reason alone that we were all there and, as he closed his kinda-rubbish-but-also-pretty-fucking-awesome-actually performance with that song, everyone sang along joyously. What a way to start the year.

IMG_1376Breakbot followed, with 80s-tinged funky bass disco sounds sometimes embellished with male vocals but, by this stage, the hunt for shade had taken precedence as the sweltering sun relentlessly attacked revellers. Under the trees at the Left Field stage was such a place, and while there you could also hear a high-energy, full-on set from Araabmuzik. Next Up, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs hit the main stage. Known to his parents as Orlando Higginbottom, the British DJ/producer was joined by two dancers as he set about delivering his accessible and very danceable house sounds. An early highlight, no doubt.

After a high point though, came a major bummer. Hot Chip arrived at the festival in good time but their equipment didn’t, so their much-anticipated live performance became a DJ set instead. Dammit. Would anything else on the bill fill the Hot Chip-shaped hole in our afternoons? Certainly not Van She, on the second stage, nor the stage’s comperes, The Bondi Hipsters, who died on their arses with their terrifyingly unfunny ‘banter’. Ah well, time instead for punters to find food and shade and to recharge their batteries in preparation for a fine run of bands in the evening.

First, Django Django (pictured, top) introduced guitars to the proceedings. Lots of pingers had clearly kicked in by this time as many of the crowd at the front danced to them as though they were getting down to the Prodigy in 1991, rather than The Django’s indie/dance/pop/rock geekery. It was a great set though and was followed by an even stronger one. The Vaccines took the guitar baton and raced into another gear, belting out 2-minute garage rock anthems as the sun set. They raced around the stage, all dark denim and shaggy hair and thanked the audience, at what is predominately a dance festival, for taking the time to check them out. No thanks necessary. It was possibly the performance of the day. There was more indie rock over on the main stage, as Two Door Cinema Club played to a big crowd. While they proved themselves to be tight as hell as a band, there set wasn’t as strong as the two acts that had come before on the smaller stage. No matter, back on the second stage, young London-based producers Disclosure were laying down a heady mixture of deep house, UK Garage, and bass while Hudson Mohawke was getting the party truly started at the Left Field stage.

Screen Shot 2013-01-04 at 12.03.34 AMAnd finally, after a day of intense sun, seemingly a competition to see who could be the least/worst dressed woman and a shit tattoo parade on overtly muscular men, it was time for the closing acts. While Mark Ronson was putting on a pretty cool DJ set on the main stage with special guests including Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt, SBTRKT‘s show on the second stage was definitely the place to be. All the bangers from the self-titled album were remixed and extended with help from vocalist Sampha (pictured, right) and some live drums. It was dance with a soulful RnB edge and it was fucking brilliant.

But wait, there was one more surprise to come. The Field Day organisers, not wishing to let anyone down, jumped through hoops to ensure a half-hour extension to their license which would allow Hot Chip – whose gear had finally turned up – to close the day with a quick but excellent 24-minute set. It was a nice touch from a festival which consistently starts each year with good vibes and fun times.

Review and Coolio picture by Bobby Townsend. All other photos by Adam Powell.