How nice – Electric Fields provides its own quiet energy
night, the headliners couldn’t come much more opposite than, on the main stage, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, an anthemic if middleof-the-road group whose cover of The Beatles’ All You Need is Love has become a festival crowd-pleaser this summer; and, in the tented BBC/DIY Valley stage, Edinburgh’s Young Fathers, one of 2018’s most ferocious live acts, whose crowd were piled out of the entrances.
On the Saturday, meanwhile, the big buzz act on the same smaller stage was Bristolian punk group Idles, a white-hot melting pot of political energy and nerve-rattling rock antagonism, while 1990s bigstage electronica act Leftfield brought their own form of futurist punk rock to the day’s headline slot. Another performer who caused a tentpacking, although on a smaller scale to Young Fathers, was Loki the Scottish Rapper in the Neu! Reekie! stage, playing his second set of the weekend; a boiled-down version of the Poverty Safari Live show which caused ripples at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, albeit shorn of some of the razor-sharp, class-conscious nuance which made the full version such a must-see.
At Electric Fields there’s a defining sense of astute localism, a view of Scottish artists which is aware of who’s really good out there, rather than just happy to welcome everyone with a van and the petrol to make the trip out west. So we had much-loved elders in Idlewild and Teenage Fanclub, the astute and infectious indie-rap of Stanley Odd, dense and dark electronic production in the Arc stage from the outstanding Makeness, and Tracyanne & Danny’s tender indie, a striking cover of Daniel Johnston’s True Love Will Find You in the End included.
The music of shoegazing psych-rockers The Horrors
didn’t appear entirely suited to the outdoors in daylight, but the pseudo-nostalgic stock footage-backed soundtracks of Public Service Broadcasting gained added atmosphere in misty darkness, the lights of the funfair illuminating the site. Yet the most affecting point of the weekend involved no artists taking to the stage; with the late Scott Hutchison’s side project Mastersystem
having been due to play here, their album Dance Music was played to the DIY stage instead, and a respectful crowd gathered to hear it once more. DAVID POLLOCK