Photographs by Neil Van.
Field Trip was the exact same as last year in terms of atmosphere. No, really. It even rained on the second day as it did last time. It felt as though I was stuck within a festive Deja Vu, and the music was just as uplifting. Rain couldn’t tackle the spirits of both the performers and the guests! We had an older crowd of folk fans, a young group of pop lovers and those who fell in between. Today was by far the most varied Field Trip day I have experienced yet, and it was as though the class went to an art gallery full of so many different styles.
We went to the rock show with Father John Misty who is way more controlled on album. Live, the folk rock guru is a maniac. He sways his hips like a Hawaiian bobble doll on the dashboard, and yet he hides behind sunglasses. He screams into the microphone uncontrollably, yet he has little to say between songs. He sure is a mystery, and he probably prefers it to be that way. Lyrically, Father John Misty is raw and even offensive at times. That kind of chaotic wildfire seemed to explode on stage, especially as he self destructed towards the end of his set. With his guitar dropped from behind his shoulder and a microphone stand being slammed into the stage that I swear was broken when I first saw it (I later found out the microphone stand was okay, but, damn, if you could ever fool me), he dropped the microphone after shrugging and leaving. Without even waving goodbye, Father John Misty was gone. The man had the potential to be a headliner, and one day he most likely will be. Until then, he will shrug it off as if it never happened. We, however, cannot.
A Field Trip Veteran brought us his usual collage of friends for the year. Kevin Drew may be a master of super groups, but today it was his day to shine with a dear friend of us all: Andy Kim. The veteran singer looks as young as possible, and his singing was shockingly youthful at times. Sure, the modern material was in a key that matched his style now, but Kim could hit the high notes that he strung together back when he was younger. It was a back and forth telling of tales for both Kim and his fondest follower Drew. With a technical problem that hindered the sound of Drew’s guitar, he walked off stage to talk to the guys behind the sound board. It was a bit of a special moment, because it felt like Drew was fighting for Kim’s moment to shine and not for himself. Sometimes Drew would back Kim, and other times Kim would back off and admire what Drew and the backing band had in store before him (Kim would join in as backing vocals occasionally). When Kevin Drew brought out Andy Kim last year when Broken Social Scene headlined Field Trip, we knew that he was fond of him. However, their friendship was delightful to see on stage, as two masters of happy rock music (both of generations old and new) have amalgamated to bring happiness to a festival that thrives on the widest of smiles.
Dan Mangan+Blacksmith were probably the most toned down group of all of Field Trip. They acknowledged the crowd as their guests within their living room, and they played by the fire in a warm, inviting environment. It was a show for those who were waiting for the folk and roots aspect of Field Trip (which, how could they not with headliners like Alabama Shakes and My Morning Jacket?). Mangan sang with a powerful delivery and every moment was heartfelt. This set felt more for a specific audience than one that tried to grab the attention of everyone, so his best efforts felt like a remarkable note on the day for the passersby and a soaring win for the target demographic. Mangan’s set was a lovely, soothing set that brought people together to feel or to simply just listen. Hey, festivals needs the emotional acts too, right?
Well, shortly afterwards, the stage sprouted large, inflatable fruits while Marina Diamandis popped out with cherries on top of her head. Yes, it was Marina and her backing band (The Diamonds) in support of her revitalization caught on album known as Froot. This act was, by far, the poppiest at any Field Trip day I have ever been a part of, and the crowd seemed as though it was brought in via helicopter and dropped smack in the middle of this festival. Where on earth did all of these kids, clad with their posters and magazines to get signed, come from? Clearly, a good portion of the crowd came for Marina alone, and I hope they stayed and discovered some good music throughout the entire event. If not, at least Marina’s set was overflowing with fun. The happiness spread out throughout Field Trip was sound within Marina’s child like dancing, the bursting performances by her backing band and the innocence of her overall time with us (okay, so she swore once or twice). Marina and The Diamonds are definitely an act that stand out on paper, but within context, the group seemed to help bring good vibes to the weekend, and you can’t fit in any more than that. Plus, like Dan Mangan’s more personal moment, it never hurts to let loose and be playful.
Rhye brought things down to a porcelain-like calm, with shimmering lights and the crispiest bass lines this side of town. On album, Rhye are soothing and aethereal. Live, this energy is radiant and explosive. Each and every percussive hit shook us to our core. Milosh had one of the best vocal performances of the festival as he hit the heavens above with his piercing croon. Their songs live don’t call for a jam session necessarily, and yet the backing band went about and jammed anyways. In the end, it expanded the music, it fit perfectly well within the confinement of Field Trip, and it ended up making Rhye’s set the most moving this weekend. It was a passionate set that gracefully matched the rain that landed on us.
The weekend ended off with a culminated bang. My Morning Jacket came out with their stuffed bears on site (think of it as a less serious taxidermy, and you’ve got the fun loving roots feel of this band down). Their discography is so eclectic that a palette featuring a little bit of everything that they’ve done was more than enough to finish things off with such variety. Jim James’ vocal work and guitar playing had him closing things off like an absolute god, while virtually everyone in the band is a clear cut professional at what they do. The rhythm grooved and the guitars wailed. My Morning Jacket were fun, exciting and everything you could hope for in a festival band.