June 9, 2003
By David Krell
Originally, Field Day was supposed to be New York's first-ever music, arts and camping festival. But due to both environmental and security concerns, the location had to be moved out of Calverton Park in Suffolk County, Long Island and relocated to Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
No camping. No two day festival and not one sign of a grassy field anywhere. Not only did organizers bash the very idea they originally stood for, which was creating a world for people to escape to and enjoy, but over 10 of the bands that originally signed up for the event, dropped out.
There was no art represented (as originally promised), nor was their any sign of a virgin mega-store. There was no flea market and the eclectic range of food wasn't anywhere to be found. Hot dog anyone?
There were no umbrellas allowed in the venue, and of course it rained the entire day.
The location of the second stage, which was outside between parking lots C and D, seemed hand-picked by President Bush himself; as if to give music fans the dregs of all possible concert locations.
The second stage featured acts such as Ours, a band whose lead singer reeked of Jeff Buckley influence and cheap hair gel.The 22-20's followed with a 30 minute set of basic indie rock melodies and a lead singer, who obviously spent the past 10 years perfecting Jim Morrison's voice while blatantly ignoring his lyrics. Pick a side, boys. Don't sound deep and look stupid.
My Morning Jacket was wonderfully chaotic while remaining obscure, beautiful and innocent. Bright Eyes rocked quietly in front of a tiny crowd and Elliott Smith was glowing with sincere aspirations for a good time.
While the second stage attracted more underground fans, the main stage was filled with two kinds of fans: The kind that has money to waste and listens to the Top 40 and every psychotic Radiohead fan, who probably wore diapers to Field Day in order to secure the perfect spot.
Beth Orton was sweet and gentle during her short set, while Spiritualized was loud, boring, off-key, and over-produced all at the same time.
Techno-driven Underworld was good, but not good enough to pull everyone out of the "I hate this festival coma" that Spiritualized put everyone in. Blur came onstage and played the most well rounded mix of songs anyone could have asked for. Some songs bordered on Pink Floyd, others David Bowie. Sometimes Blur made you want to punch your neighbor for just existing, while at other moments, a hug was the only plausible response.
Those warm feelings of content didn't last very long. Beck supposedly fell on his way to the stage and had to be rushed to the hospital, while Particle canceled their performance as well. Due to Beck's cancellation, the Beastie Boys came on 45 minutes earlier than their original timeslot had stated.
Predictable, monotonous, and overly staged is the only way to explain the Beastie Boys performance. Every song sounded the same, and the only moments of excitement were the brief intervals in which mix-master Mike showcased his talents. At least someone in the band has evolved. It seems like every other member is "wound up and then tossed onstage."
Then there's Radiohead. Calm, cool, and extremely confident that they can live up to their reputation as the greatest band in the world, each band member walked triumphantly onstage. They began with the first single, "There, There," from their new album, "Hail to the Thief."
As amazing as it was to witness the masters at work, "There, There," was neither here nor "there." It can only be described as the clearest transformation from one Radiohead album to the next. It's a great song, don't ever think otherwise. But a great song is only a good Radiohead song.
Everyone in attendance held onto each breath as if it were their last, and thus, the crowd remained quiet while Radiohead delicately blew everyone away. The organizers of Field Day, or one might say, "disorganizers," should thank Radiohead over and over again. And just when they think they've thanked them enough, they should thank them again.
If not for Radiohead, Field Day might have been the biggest failure in the history of music festivals. Instead, it will be remembered as being a concert, which featured artists, who simply projected Radiohead's world music dominance even further. In an attempt to recreate the perfect music festival, Field Day organizers forgot one important thing. At least try to keep the promises you make.
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