Field Day @ The Domain, Sydney (01/01/2013)

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Why bother with an underwhelming NYE when you can guarantee an overwhelming musical feast on New Year’s Day? Yep, it’s Field Day: The biggest way to begin the year. The sun was out in force, the clothes were minimal, and the punters’ attitudes were hell bent on a great day. It was an absolutely gigantic day that seemed to pass in the blink of an eye.

Checking in on Coolio, it was evident he’s still livin’ in a gangster’s paradise with legions of fans (or nostalgic bandwagon jumpers) all over the Island stage. However, not knowing any of his (I’m sure impressive) back catalogue, it was a small walk across to Centre Field to check out one of the greats, Jesse Rose.

Though Mr Rose’s crowd was smaller, it was much more discerning and dedicated. Injecting an audio bite heralding in the new year for Sydney and necking a bottle of Grey Goose, Jesse Rose won over his audience with a smattering of classic dance tunes (like Stardust’s Music Sounds Better With You) and a solid block of his own tracks. It was hot work dancing out his set in the blazing sun, but luckily the security dudes had a hose to take care of the nosebleed section.

Next on Centre Field were A-Skillz and Krafty Kuts. Separately they’re old favourites in Australia, even more so when these boys get together. After over 10 years of bouncing off each other, they undeniably still have it. Banging out a massive set of breaks, dub step, drum n bass, funk, rock, hip-hop and little bits of everything in between, the day was off and racing.
It’s worth a mention that mini A-Skillz out and about on stage. Adam’s son (responsibly decked with ear muffs) made a guest appearance as the only thing cute enough to distract from the funkiest technicians behind four decks.

The German duo Booka Shade saw a wee change of tempo, bringing out their housey, techy, airy, bubbly, bright beats to the crowd. From Body Language and Mandarine Girl, to Donut and Bad Love, the boys nailed live versions of their masterfully produced classics.

DJ Nu-Mark absolutely let loose on Left Field after Araabmuzik blew minds with his dexterity behind the decks. Gathering a smaller, older crowd, he provided a well worthy set. The former Jurassic 5 DJ dropped hits left, right and centre. From the Supreme’s You Can’t Hurry Love to the Beastie Boys’ Intergalactic to Men at Work’s Land Down Under to J5’s smash Golden. There was not a microsecond wasted in the set. It’s fairly safe to say that Nu-Mark got through a gazillion different tracks in his hour-long set… And still had time to entertain A-Skillz and Krafty who dropped by to watch him at work.

An unfortunate late shipment of equipment saw Hot Chip swap from a live set to a DJ set in their time slot. Although this was devastating, as Hot Chip’s live set is unbeatable, their DJ set was large, loud and had the whole Centre Field in a shape-cutting frenzy. Their live mix of (Hot Chip’s very own) Joe Goddard’s Gabrielle was wild, with Valentina’s voice resplendent in the afternoon rays.

Over at the Island, Django Django took a little while to sound check, but the wait proved worth it. Their psychedelic dancey pop was an aural delight to see live. Having missed them on their tour earlier this year, it was fantastic to have a second chance to see a band produce such a distinct dance sound live on stage. Their presence was friendly and poppy and just a little bit intoxicating.

Erol Alkan was another pace changer, keeping the beats driven and the crowd shuffling. For many it was a good time to have a sit down, reapply some sunscreen, grab a drink, bite and chat in the shade, with the tunes maintaining the soundtrack all the while. Then indie rock dudes Two Door Cinema Club took up the main position and belted out all their hits.

From the time the sun went down, it was obvious that this party was unrelenting. Disclosure kept the people happy with their unique house/garage overtones and no one was upset to hear their remix of Jessie Ware’s Running.

SBTRKT was again late to start, but was definitely a great closer for the Island stage. Sampha and the vowel-less maestro displayed musicality beyond their obvious recording ability. The man in the mask bashed out live beats that had the crowd on edge, though Sampha’s vocals were almost drowned out by a very enthusiastic punter-sing-a-long to tracks Hold On and Pharaohs.

Mark Ronson’s DJ set was the penultimate act on the main stage, finishing a wee bit early to give more room to the fabulous Hot Chip. It was evident that everyone at Centre Field had a blast with Ronson and didn’t seem too cut that Hot Chip took over for a quick thirty-minute blast to cap off a ridiculously big day.

With an outstanding international and local line-up, there was a diversity in both music choice and attendees. As usual, there were posers who were there to look good (and, eventually, sunburnt), but overwhelmingly the crowd was there for the music and to have a good old fashioned shindig. Epic, exhausting and euphoric, Field Day proves it’s better to go as hard as you can on the first day of the year.

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