Undisclosed location near London
30 August - 1 September
As the dust settles on another year at Field Maneuvers, it’s almost impossible to comprehend how it remains one of the best-kept secrets on the UK festival circuit. Every year the loyal crowd of ravers return, and every year they leave basking in the afterglow of time spent with friends old and new; forged at a party practically without flaw. Fireside chat would have you believe that Field Maneuvers simply does the basics well and that the rest of its charm lies in some strange alchemy, and it’s true that the crowd Field Maneuvers attracts is exclusively made up of the world’s friendliest people. The care that goes into the minutiae, however, goes well beyond ‘basic’.
Despite the fact that, at a skip, it takes approximately 10 seconds to move between tents, the sound was crisp with no bleed. The programming and stage design was considered and varied enough that if you did decide to take such drastic measures, you’d find yourself faced with a complete switch up. Not long after our arrival, the Laika tent is bathed in deep, dubby tones beset by trippy hanging lanterns at 12th Isle’s excellent showcase. Minutes later Anastasia Kristensen is playing Eric Prydz’ Call On Me and a Prodigy x Yes mashup amid the fog and turbo lasers in Sputnik’s Dome.
Fast forward 24 hours and Sputnik’s Dome was about to leave the earth as Nick Höppner demonstrated UK Garage’s impact on the continent with an all-UKG set; Darqwan’s Said the Spider (VIP), Floating Points’ Headie One remix (the weekend’s most ubiquitous track), Wookie’s Scrappy and a garage version of Sisqo’s Thong Song exemplifying the festival’s knack for striking a balance between silliness and headsy taste.
Other moments of note included Peach’s rapturous Sunday evening set, Shanti Celeste pulling off arguably the biggest left-turn of the weekend with G.O.D’s Shake it Up – speed garage steppers were another consistent theme – DJ Persuasion’s history lesson, Iona’s tasteful warm-up and Giant Swan’s colossal live show. Alex Downey in Sputnik’s Dome has to go down as the pinnacle, however, closing out the festival with a fittingly mind-blowing bang.
Seven years in, the formula for Field Maneuvers has been fine-tuned. Special mention must be made to the projections and visuals teams (Ixian Optical, Joëlle Snaith, Avva studio, Paradox State, Potential Difference and Matt Woodham) who continue to take it to another level, so too the neon-clad volunteers whose enthusiasm set the tone from arrival (‘we’re here to
help party’ emblazoned on their backs). It’s hard to pin down exactly what makes the festival so good but the consensus that Field Maneuvers gets just about everything right is universal among those in attendance. 800 ravers can’t be wrong.