There’s no denying that dance music has just endured one of its toughest eras, seeing nightclubs shut down, festivals cancelled and the very principles of the genre – togetherness, unity, rebellion – at odds with Government legislation. To approach Victoria Park this weekend for the triumphant return of Field Day to its spiritual home and hear the thud from several huge stages, felt seismic.
Josey Rebelle wasted no time in getting the party started, drawing the early arrivals into the space- like 6 Music stage with tunes like tractor beams, foregoing drinks and food to get straight down to dancing. Special Request seamlessly matched Rebelle’s early doors energy at the handover, wielding huge breaks which clattered and rattled around the surround speakers of the spherical stage. With overwhelming bass and snares like whipcracks, it was hard to draw yourself away.
Over in the North Stage tent, standing near the front watching India Jordan, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for 3am. It was mid-afternoon, however, but that didn’t deter Jordan from mixing clubland and trance classics such as Alice DJ’s Better Off Alone and ATB’s 9PM with other frenetic selections. With the crowd doubling in size with every new track, the tent was soon packed, and the noise of the crowd nearly took the tent right off its pegs.
Over on the West Stage, Artwork (sporting lockdown locks to rival anyone) opted for a disco-tinged set, a perfect soundtrack to the fading light. His appreciation and excitement to be back in this environment was palpable, the emotion written clearly across his face as it flashed up on the big screens. As the West Stage crowd grew, Mall Grab took the reins and blew the figurative roof off. Littering his set with his own energetic productions, tracks such as Pool Party Music whipped the crowd up and, much to their delight, lumbering out of the next transition came the iconic Jason Nevins remix of Run-DMC’s It’s Like That, a sing-along moment for the excited crowd.
Prospa drew one of the biggest crowds of the day. Following India Jordan was always going to be difficult, but the Leeds boys’ insatiable energy created scenes akin to the golden age of rave. Huge synths, breaks and stabs sent the tent into a frenzied state of euphoria and it was difficult to see how there was still hours left in the day.
DJ Seinfeld and George Fitzgerald blended a heady mix of house, techno and acid in-keeping with the high tempo of the afternoon. Tuff City Kids’ acid mix of Klic’s Disco Music thundered out from the main stage before KMA Productions’ Cape Fear surged across the park. Respite came through DJ Seinfeld’s own U, a track containing a heart-breaking sample of Sir Bob Geldof describing grief. It felt poignant and a rare moment of reflection among the otherwise breathless energy of the day.
With the other stages winding up, Bicep took to the main stage. 40,000 dancers assembled as the headline act showed exactly why they’ve become such a spectacle. An hour and a half of anthemic electronica was accompanied by mesmerising visuals. By the time Glue shimmered and cut across the crowd, tears of joy were running, and arms were flung into the air.
Field Day was a triumphant return for dance music; just the cathartic expulsion of expression and energy that everyone there needed.
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