Monday Morning Quarterback: Field Day Festival 2003

Football analogies were in store as Radiohead took the stage on Saturday night at the first ever Field Day Festival at the home of the J-E-T-SÖJETS, JETS, JETS! and the G-men. It was literally the two-minute warning when the permitted plagued Field Day Festival switched venues with only three days until show time and it was up to Radiohead to perform when the pressure was squarely on them. But as with all ìbig gameî performers, Radiohead took the stage and delivered a ferocious set of new and old material, which truly set them apart from any of their peers.

Just when you thought they couldnít get any better or there was that hint of doubt in the back of your mind about how the last three records may have, ìsounded alike,î Radiohead once again over-deliver and take you to musical heights seldom seen or heard these days. Opening their set in the dark with Ed OíBrien and Johnny Greenwood on standup drums for ìThere thereî and finishing it off with the spaced out, isolation-laced ballad ìHow To Disappear Completelyî and everywhere in-between Radiohead delighted the die-hard crowd which stood in the rain for over 10 hours to witness Radioheadís first proper North American live date in years. The energetic and wordy Thom Yorke led the soaked fans through the set which saw the often shy and reserved lead singer jumping and encouraging the crowd to participate in the show, with him. The new, new Radiohead seems more confident than ever, led by a singer who seems to be finally comfortable with his place as an icon.

As far as the rest of the day's acts go, the rain and change of venue certainly had an effect on peopleís willingness to sit through, if not, even show up for, bands that they might not have liked. Liz Phair and Beth Orton were successful at reaching the crowd at first, but their acoustic-based sets could only hold the attention of people searching for cover, or a bright orange parka, for so long. Spiritualized sounded great, but their set during the day, without an accompanying light show failed to lure in the wet crowd. The DJ set by Underworld surprisingly got people out of their seats as their set not only got the crowd moving, but for a moment, dry.

Festival veterans Blur were the first band to capture the full attention of the crowd as Damon Albarnís previous experience at wet European festivals surely helped, as he dove in and out of the rain leading the fans through a set which included a stirring version of the perfect rainy day song, ìTender.î

Hometown heroes, and presumably Jets or Giants fans, Beastie Boys, took the stage early as a freak accident sidelined Beck from fulfilling his duties as a table setter for the two headliners. MCA, Adrock and Mike D often seemed uninterested, and, for sure unrehearsed, as they led the crowd through a set of old and new classics. Their set was great at times, but the stops and restarts grew annoying, but thankfully Mix Master Mike was able to spike the music with beats from new hip-hop which kept the crowd growing and even injected some life in to the lifeless and tired Beastie tracks.

The Field Day planners and producers had the right idea in mind and hereís to hoping that they give it another go next year as the East Coast is in need of a musical event like the one they originally had in mind, and the 30,000 people which showed up on three days notice certainly shows that there is an audience.

Source: Patrick Schmidt, Cornerstone Promotion ñ NYC

Monday Morning Quarterback: Field Day Festival 2003