Another bank holiday, another festival, so the Pitch team loaded the Pitch-wagon ready to make the pilgrimage to Field Trip. Without any prior knowledge, personal recommendations or idea what to expect of the festival, we decided to take a chance on Field Trip based on its proximity and pretty decent lineup, which included Shadow Child, Alan Fitzpatrick, Stanton Warriors, Roni Size and S.P.Y, to name a few.
Located near Trowbridge, West Ashton, the drum and bass mecca is in its second year and has already developed a bit of a cult following of people looking to have a big old party in a field, with a genre of music that is usually sidelined into a smaller tent during the early hours of many festivals.
After pulling up at a relaxed 4PM on Saturday and setting the tents up before the weekend’s torrential rain started, the Pitch team wandered into the main area to check out what lay ahead for us.
Unfortunately, Field Trip is an arena festival – meaning that any boozing after walking past security has to be fuelled by the bars. Thankfully, they turned out to be not as over-priced as some other festivals’ bars.
While we’re talking about flaws, I think it’s pertinent to mention atmosphere. After exploring Field Trip, we realised that the workshops and events that help give any festivals their character and experience of ‘elsewhereness’ were missing. There was no stand-up comedy, no Brazilian fighting-dance workshops, no tug-of-wars, in fact, the weekender was lacking a lot of the atmosphere that other festivals pride themselves on. Field Trip, not that this is any bad thing (as I’ll come to explain later), seems to be more of an excuse to throw a party and listen to drum and bass, than a fully-fledged festival. However, once at peace with this fact, Field Trip delivered in massive quantities…
once at peace with this fact, Field Trip delivered in massive quantities…
Inside the arena, Saturday’s evening started off with the Pitch team venturing to the (not so) Hidden Garden stage to catch Jaydrop and Drillz for some hip hop-infused bass music. The lively duo were unfortunately cut-short by the calling of Bristol based eight-piece Dr Meaker on the main stage.
Arriving just before Dr Meaker began gave us time to compose ourselves before the instantly recognisable soul-covered drum and bass of the eight-piece filled our ears. The fusion of live instruments, big samples and top voices was proof that we made the right choice of leaving the Hidden Garden, and to be honest, it was over too soon.
On the cards after Dr Meaker was a trip back to the tent for a top-up, then onwards to catch Stanton Warriors who, as well as their own big tunes, treated us with a glimpse into their substantial record collection as the sun set over Fieldtrip. The veteran duo focussed largely on the relatively new genre of trap – a mixture of hip hop and aggressive dance music, which was listened to in earnest after a day of non-stop drum and bass (you can have enough of the high BPM DnB after all, it turns out).
Bumping into Carasel in the crowd at the Apex Stage and admitting our near-defeat at the relentless high-BPM drum and bass resulted in a well-mannered lecture on how we were fools to have missed his liquid set with Hospital Records member, Logistics, in the Hidden Garden earlier in the evening – a duo we will definitely be hunting down in the future.
admitting our near-defeat at the relentless high-BPM drum and bass
Sunday started with a bit of bad news. One of the biggest draws for Pitch was one of house music’s biggest names in recent times –Shadow Child. Unfortunately it turned out that ‘due to circumstances beyond our control’, Field Trip organisers had to replace Shadow Child with Latmun, the captivating house and techno DJ-cum-producer.
The closing headline slot on Sunday went to one of the most revered drum and bass producers of all time, Roni Size. Fresh from his announcement that Full Cycle Records will be coming back from retirement after 12 years, Roni was joined by stalwart MC Dynamite who together gave us some of the best sounds of the weekend, ending the festival with a not-unexpected bang.
Despite the obvious complaints – the budget-ruining arena format and the lack of any noticeable atmosphere – Field Trip was a lot of fun. Perhaps not surprisingly, being in the South West and all that, the Field Trip punters were a nice bunch with many a friendship’s foundations built on a common love for that “choon”, and added to the fact that the weekend’s soundtrack was assembled by some of the biggest names in house, techno, and drum and bass, it meant that the weekend had a great vibe. For a £55 ticket, you got one hell of a party – just maybe not a festival.
Photography by Ramona Carraro Photography.