With its biggest lineup to date and a new two-day format, Electric Fields was promising big things this year; and it didn’t disappoint.
Firmly stamping its place as an essential part of the UK festival calendar, organisers gave festival-goers a weekend to remember with its unique atmosphere, beautiful location and endless supply of good music; all set in glorious sunshine.
Only in its third year, the festival has flourished since its inception; this year hosting its most eclectic lineup to date with 91 international, national and local bands, artists and DJs spread across four stages. You would be hard pushed to find a stronger lineup anywhere else in the UK. Those afraid that the addition of big names like Primal Scream and The Charlatans would diminish from the amount of local talent on display had nothing to worry about though; Scotland’s thriving music scene getting its fair chance to shine with plenty of emerging artists on show. And with reasonable crowds gathering at each stage throughout the weekend, it shows that there is a refreshing appetite to hear and support this new music, along with the bigger names on the bill.
This community-inspired feeling has allowed the festival to generate a special and unique atmosphere; drawing crowds of all ages, there is enough to attract families and party-goers alike. The glorious sunshine is surely enough reason to celebrate, after all. And with each stage bringing its own appeal, it seems as though the organisers have been able to master the art of offering something for everyone.
The opening day starts strongly with a set from the much talked about Neon Waltz. With the crowd steadily growing throughout, they prove themselves worthy of their position on the Main Stage with their refreshing and airy sound perfect for their afternoon slot. Bringing together classic indierock and mildly psychedelic influences, the six-piece allow their music to do the talking; their well-crafted arrangements benefitting from jangling guitar lines, the addition of an organ and wonderfully soft vocals from frontman Jordan Shearer. With much hype surrounding them, it surely won’t be long until they’re playing bigger slots than this.
Over on the TTV/Stewart Carmichael stage, Baby Strange up the ante with a high energy set full of ferocious punk anthems. Their polished punkrock sound is laced with a dark, menacing energy which gives their live set a raucous atmosphere; perfect for festivals. The release of their highly anticipated debut album ‘Want It Need It’ will surely mark a turning point for the three-piece who have been threatening big things for a while. They dedicate their set to the late Gary Watson, whose presence is sorely missed at the festival given The Lapelles were due to appear on the same stage. However, his name lives on, remaining in the hearts and minds of everyone across the weekend with crowds chanting his name and tributes pouring in from the other performing artists.
Following an enjoyable, more laid-back performance from the fuzz-pop duo Tuff Love in the same tent, it’s time to check out what else is on offer. With all four stages a short walking distance from one another, the arena has a nice, insular feel about it. Without doubt, the best addition has to be the Tim Peaks stage; a concept created by Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess and one which has proven successful at other festivals around the country. It is a small, cosy area kitted out with big, welcoming armchairs and a good quality coffee shop. Across the weekend, you can catch a variety of established and upcoming acts, take part in a dance class, sit in a book reading from Burgess himself or even dance the night away at a David Bowie/Prince disco. It’s a fantastic addition which adds to the festival’s vibrant and quirky personality.
A short walk across the arena and you’ll find the Sneaky Pete’s tent, the go-to place for lovers of electronicmusic and further proof that this year’s line-up offers something for everyone. Factory Floor is a highlight on Friday, playing a fun, dance-inspired set full of massive hooks which showcases material from their acclaimed second album ’25 25’.
The best way to spend the Friday night is over at the Main Stage however, where you can see sets from Public Service Broadcasting, Wild Beasts and The Charlatans. Perhaps the only disappointment across the weekend is the news that a highly anticipated appearance from the Sugarhill Gang won’t be coming to fruition as they’re stuck on the motorway. However, following this delay, it is left to Public Service Broadcasting to get the party started again with the type of compelling live set with which they have become renowned. Attracting a crowd of all ages, the pseudonymous duo are witty and full of enthusiasm throughout, provoking a huge reaction with their alternative anthems which make use of public service recordings over instrumental arrangements; ‘Go!’ and ‘Everest’ proving to be big highlights, before a crowd-pleasing sample of ‘Flower of Scotland’ goes down a treat. Given that it is still daylight when they perform, the crowd are unable to appreciate the visuals that usually accompany their set; but they still manage to pull off a memorable performance that does their unique creative vision justice.
Wild Beasts follow with a pounding set that is accompanied by a dazzling light show. Admittedly initially unsure about their lofty position on the Main Stage, it doesn’t take long to be won over. They look and sound like an outfit who have spent time perfecting their craft; it seems unbelievable that their latest album ‘Boy King’ is their fifth to be released since 2008. Tracks like ‘Celestial Creatures’ and ‘Big Cat’ go down a storm as they leave Electric Fields with a lot of new fans.
Following this, The Charlatans take to the stage and deliver a masterclass in the art of headlining a festival. The band, who have shown a relentless strength in adversity over the years, are still able to draw in massive crowds these days with no sign of their appeal dwindling. This in part is down to the personal popularity of frontman Tim Burgess, who bounds up and down the stage with as much enthusiasm as ever. One thing is for sure; he has definitely left his mark on Electric Fields. Opening with ‘Weirdo’ and ‘North Country Boy’, the atmosphere is electric from the get-go, ensuring everyone is in full festivalparty mode. The setlist is perfectly crafted with outings for new material like ‘Come HomeBaby’ and ‘Let the Good Times Be Never Ending’, along with old favourites like ‘How High’ and ‘The Only One I Know’ transporting everyone back to the nineties. Twenty years later, The Charlatans have still got it.