Festival Preview: Field Day 2019

Five Acts to See June 7 – 8 at The Drumsheds, Meridian Water, in London

May 22, 2019
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It is quite a challenge curating a desirable, hipster-sensitive festival line-up year in, year out in a city like London. Trends shift quickly enough as it is, but to be expected to remain ahead of them for over a decade is unenviable. Since its inception in 2007, Field Day has slowly established itself as London's premier annual shindig; a perusal of its posters down the years acting as a tour through the ebb and flow of tasteful buzz generators. Last year, the festival moved from its longtime home at Victoria Park, but this year it arrives at what feels like its sustainable home for the future. The Drumsheds is a complex of vast, interlinked warehouses in a major regeneration complex in the north of the city. It allows for the festival organizers to stretch the limits of volume beyond their previous outdoor confines, as well as permitting a 3 a.m. finish on both of its two nights.

This year's line-up sees the usual balance of genres, with headliners Skepta and Jorja Smith representing the current royalty of homegrown hip-hop and R&B. Death Grips, Pusha T, and Earl Sweatshirt demonstrate the formidable pulling power of Field Day in the rap community, whilst the likes of The Black Madonna, Actress, Bonobo, and Marie Davidson prove that it still has the ear of the more prodigious artists of dance music. We've dug a little deeper to highlight five acts that could upstage some of their more established peers.

Charlotte Adigéry

A Belgian artist with French-Caribbean heritage, Charlotte Adigéry is the quintessential new young artist: one that doesn't know what to do with borders or divisions between places and cultures. A progeny of the Soulwax school, her early EPs have been colorful, glittering offerings to the possibility of what blending traditions can achieve, falling somewhere in the explosion between funk, house, DIY, and soul. Calling to mind the likes of Ibeyi and Santigold, Adigéry is the best current representation of the direction we can most expect the coming decades to take us into. Like a Creole stew from Martinique, which forms one of the branches of her lineage, you could waste your time picking apart the ingredients, but why not just gorge yourself until you can no longer move.

JPEGMAFIA

One of the leaders of the current crop of independent hip-hop in the U.S., JPEGMAFIA (aka Barrington DeVaughn Hendricks) managed what few young musicians so bursting with contradictory thoughts and impulses have: to capture the breadth of his voice and his palette in an early studio release. 2018's Veteran, his second album, is a tour de force, one of the year's best, with track titles ranging from "Libtard Anthem" to "I Cannot Fucking Wait Until Morrissey Dies." Like Injury Reserve and clipping., two artists that he has worked with, the independent-spirited, anti-pop stance of his production is a revitalizing force for the genre, whilst the humor and imagination of his writing suggests that we are only just getting started with his output. His raucous live shows are something to behold too, so Field Day beware.

Kojey Radical

One of the godfathers-to-be of the UK hip-hop firmament, Kojey Radical has his tentacles in almost everything subversive and challenging that has happened in the last handful of years. Recent collaborators include, for example, Shabaka Hutchings, MJ Cole, Mahalia, Poté, Poppy Ajudha, and Ghetts, all artists pushing out in different directions from different starting points. His 2017 album In Gods Body is typical of his ravenous appetite to compress complex and elaborate storytelling messages into his work, a dizzy and restless artefact that went underappreciated on its release, but like Young Fathers' records, is likely to be seen one day as one of this UK generation's most important statements.

Methyl Ethel

If Perth, Australia's Methyl Ethel had emerged at virtually any other point in the story of guitar music, their summer-ready, psych-punk would be enough to elevate them to instant levels of international acclaim. Instead, they have the misfortune of existing during a period where, in fact, there is no shortage of such groups, especially in the post-Tame Impala/MGMT world of the late 2010s. Nevertheless, the band's twinkle is addictive, their ear for an earworm laudable, and their evolution into an assured and mature outfit on their recent third album Triage is such that amongst the beats and flows that define the Field Day spirit, the guitars will not be dismissed.

Boy Azooga

Cardiff, Wales quartet Boy Azooga made a splash in their home country with their debut album 1, 2, Kung Fu in 2018, a fairly sudden arrival into the always busy Welsh music scene, after their members had been flirting with other projects for years previously. They talk a good music nerd game, regularly name-checking the likes of Can, William Onyeabor, and Van McCoy amongst other eclectic luminaries, but their tracks walk the same walk, a confident, dextrous mix that outstrips the ambition of the bulk of their peers. Twinned with a wry sense of humor, which readily comes to the fore in their live performances, they are as well-equipped as any new British band to build a foundation for a major future career.

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