Electric Fields, Day 2, 2/9/17

Arriving on site again to find the sun out again is a glorious sight and we’re just on time for the Vitamin C hit that is Sacred Paws; the duo are so infectious and likeable, their chirpy harmonies and Rachel Aggs’ signature tropical guitar style just feels like it’s good for you.

Whimsically dancey, like a low-key afternoon party under the bright sunshine they are uncomplicated and carefree in their delivery of both sound and performance; you might find yourself somewhere between a calypso paradise and a trippy dream. Featuring witty syncopation, the question and answer pattern to a number of their vocal segments creates a real classy show.

 

They are the perfect band for this time and weather, the latter obviously there’s been a bit of luck for but the fact there’s a healthy crowd down early for them can only be a positive getting people moving in the early day while others chill on the grass letting the warmth wash over them.

Saturday sees the Redeemer stage rebranded the Big Pink, and as we wander in Birdhead are filling the tent with punch packing sound that attracts a fairly solid turn out.

Pulsing guitar and electronics are punctuated by powerful drumming as the duo deliver a sound that sounds as big as many five-pieces would, it’s apocalyptic at times but always has a pulsating drive behind it the keeps your feet and head going, the rare snarled vocals keep up the same intensity level, while latest single ‘Custom Muscle’ has the band hilariously pointing out, after noticing kids in the audience, is about “treating your body like an amusement park”.

Whyte Horses Experience seem like another band well suited to a main stage afternoon set, sky soaring pop vocals on slightly psychedelic backdrop hit nicely despite the sun having disappeared, their multi-coloured poncho wearing waving mimes at the front of the stage make an odd focal point but still it’s pretty fun stuff.

Back at the Big Pink I get my first Vic Galloway introduction that becomes a regular feature of the day, after that Edwin Organ delivers gloriously wonky chilled out electronic tracks, with a vocal the soothes and settles with a real beautiful edge, his soft yet elegant tones contrasting that of the broad Glaswegian “cheers” he utters after the opening track.

His voice is full of soul and musically there’s a real original feel to it, for the short burst we get (we’re hitting heavy crossover time now) there’s none that go out to full dance floor fillers but there’s no doubt they’re capable of it.

Clashes aside Aldous Harding seems to take an age to emerge, when she finally starts the set she apologises and states she can’t explain but she is playing a guitar that’s not hers.

Still you’d be hard pushed to complain such is the delicate beauty of her voice, which just hangs in a dreamlike state over the crowd as her gentle picked guitar and subtle electronic touches create a backdrop that compliments the mesmerising nature of what she is capable of.

After the first track there’s another change of guitar and more issues, she apologises and you really feel for her but it seems luck isn’t on her side, yet it’s testament to her quality that the crowd stays with her rather than source some other entertainment.

When she does play there’s a nuanced charm that’s hard to match, a warm yet sad beauty that eases you into another world, yet when you look at her subtle performance there’s a real intensity to her face that suggests she’s in another place too.

The sun is back out for This Is The Kit on the main stage, and Kate Stables’ mellow alt rock possesses a slowly bouncing rhythm that’s lovely to lie back on the grass to.

Touches of brass add a nice element as the band benefit hugely from the sunshine, at points the brass and rhythm take centre stage as jazzy overtones come in before the band settle back down and the soft vocals come back in.

After Aldous Harding ran over a quick changeover at the Discover stage goes successfully and thankfully Shogun is playing his first gig since his jail time, following getting arrested before he was scheduled to support Nas a few months ago.

He’s not lost anything though, as he spits with a venom that has made him one of the most hyped MCs in the UK right now.

Kami-O’s beats have a subtly that sets a trippy bounce and Shogun delivers lyrics that deal with heavy subjects brilliantly and at such breakneck pace that you can’t help but be impressed; look out for him he may be a bit make or bust, but he’s certainly most likely the first Scottish MC to break the mainstream.

Spotting a child at the back he apologises for swearing and yells “alright wee man, you’re the youngest guy to ever see me play, tell your pals you’ll be popular” to much hilarity, by 15-minutes in he states he’s gonna get sweaty and the set takes a huge upturn in pace getting the crowd and even the security guard bouncing along.

Back at the Big Pink Future Get Down enter the stage in full beekeeper suits and immediately set the pace high with a powerful cowbell enthused, whirring yet funky dance vibe, with a chanted vocal that falls somewhere between Mark E. Smith and James Murphy.

There’s such an array of sounds on offer it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the five-piece, but it’s just as easy to get yourself hooked on a groove and go with it; these guys are loads of fun, we’re paying full attention for what’s next.

Over at the main stage bouncing ska is always the order of the day with The Beat featuring Dave Wakeling.

Revolutionary baselines are played in 2/2 rhythms shining against the pulsing reggae tempo; true to their serendipitous sound, they lay their performance bare out into the open air.

Carla J. Easton (TeenCanteen, Ette) closes the Neu Reekie tent and delivers a set that is less poetry, more a keys led singer-songwriter set, but she delivers a delightful stripped back set of sugar coated pop songs in her own unique vocal twang.

It’s tippy toey twinkling stuff and has a real timeless quality as Easton brings the same irresistible pop presence she does with her bands, and while a lot of the subject matter may be a bit cutesy for some, that’s exactly how they’re supposed to be.

All of Easton’s projects seem on a real upward trajectory right now and it seems the future is bright for, whether than be herself or with a band remains to be seen but expect something big soon.

Over at Big Pink Wuh Oh delivers synth and laptop created soundscapes of glitching beauty and tumbling terror in equal measure, all the while dancing like some demented puppet.

His engrossing dancing acts as a focal point that similar acts lack in a live setting and while it’s the music that’s getting him the hype it’s these eccentricities that will see him advance further as a live act.

Directly after Stillhound start off on some jazzy flourishes, before a twinkling synth lead takes over and soft lovelorn vocals create a dreamy gloss to begin a set that gradually increases in tempo as urges you unconsciously into a gentle groove.

Later on they’re joined by vocalist EMILIE, who brings a smooth soulful voice to the band’s glimmering bleepy soundscapes, but we have to dash as we’re dragged into another clash.

That clash turns out to be the unmissable PINS who’re all garage rock attitude, a sneery chanted set full of powerful tracks that incorporate psych and surf vibes into an addictive pop package.

Every member of the band carry off this effortlessly cool vibe and yet it’s still difficult to take your eyes off vocalist Faith Vern who bops about maintaining a presence that cuts as much addictive cool as it does sheer punk attitude.

Smoothly surreptitious, Glass Animals set the scene for an atmospheric performance; it’s soft yet bold, the tunes are smooth, but still impressively sharp in creating crowd-pleasing sounds that resonate long into the night.

It’s all odd ball indie pop, upbeat and plenty of fun as singer Dave Bayley gyrates about the stage in hyperactive fashion, all while a giant golden pineapple spins at the back of the stage; easily accessible stuff that is already well on its way to being a household name.

Sam Gellaitry headlines the Big Pink tent, and manipulates samples to perfection to curate a sound that’s as lush as it is huge.

The Stirling youngster is getting hype the world over and on this evidence it’s easy to see way; the way he commands his kit seems masterful and considering he’s only 20 it’s hard to see him not mastering his craft to much higher levels.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Real Estate, some six of so years I considered them one of the best indie bands on the planet, and from today’s evidence nothing appears to have changed.

Their set is warm and welcoming with dreamy nonchalant vocals from Mark Courtney, but their sound is also one of the fullest you’ll hear all weekend; Real Estate are a spot of sunshine once the sun’s gone down, they’re a touch of warmth after it got freezing outside, they’re a band that can’t fail to put a smile on your face.

The Jesus and Mary Chain has got the lackadaisical vibe down to a fine art; they make it look so easy to sound so on point.

Wavering eight beat notes stack up on top of clashy one-stroke chord progressions, leaving you finding it hard to resist the urge to sway along.

The tracks are pretty yet somehow captivatingly dishevelled, and while they lack the riotous atmosphere their reputation from their legendary 80s shows were said to possess, they have matured into a stong live act.

Back at the Discover stage Foxygen up the ante with a pompous set of sheer fun, with a frontman in Sam France that chants like a preacher and fits the part to a tee.

There’s a ten strong band on stage and they utilise every ounce of it to create a huge sound that’s dramatic, charismatic, at points full on cabaret and always just pure entertainment.

In terms of breaking a genre, Dizzee Rascal is as big as they come and 14 years on from the seminal album that thrust grime into the mainstream, Boy In Da Corner, he’s more than got it.

On stage he’s a hugely commanding presence and even tracks from his sixth album, Raskit, released earlier this year, pack a real punch although aren’t quite creating the waves the likes of Stromzy and Skepta are doing.

The new album gets a solid airing but it’s tracks from his early records like ‘Fix Up, Look Sharp’ and ‘Jus’ A Rascal’ that get the set rolling, as the set grows on his proper mainstream material like Calvin Harris numbers ‘Dance Wiv Me’ and ‘Holiday’ get an airing to a huge reception, but not quite as big as closing number ‘Bonkers’, which sets the packed crowd to fever levels.

We’d much rather he stuck with the proper grime material, but ultimately it’s these numbers that many have come to see, you may have witnessed me holding my face is disillusion as the T in the Park favourite “here we fucking go” rings round the audience, but what we have to remember it’s these people that ultimately allow festivals like this to happen.

Still, there’s no such nonsense at the Discover stage as Arab Strap close the festival properly, indeed Aidan Moffat appears to take great pride in being the last band to actually play a song.

It’s just plain old Scottish misery, but it perfectly encapsulates the national with Moffat reciting poetic street stories in his dreary tone, while the band led by Malcolm Middleton’s guitar soar ever higher.

Arab Strap may not be the most buoyant end to a festival but it feels huge, and when they drop the chorus for ‘The First Big Weekend’, after some improvised build up from Moffat, it’s like nothing could be huger, it’s a track that embodies the Scottish temperament perfectly and would be a perfect end to the festival were it not for the band being given an impromptu encore; nobody’s complaining though.

It’s hard to imagine how Electric Fields could have done this any better; the set up, the programming, the food, there being barely any toilet queues, the atmosphere are all superb, but most important of all this is a festival that delivers wall to wall quality music, creating a perfect balance between mainstream appeal and up and coming talent.

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Words: Iain Dawson/Rachel Cunningham
Photos: Allan Lewis/Erin McKay

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