Field Music

Devin Ocampo from The Effects

A little while back, I was lucky enough to see Field Music in Rough Trade NYC. I’d missed them playing Rough Trade East and I have to admit I was a bit gutted… As it happens with a cheeky Lampy, and a little help from Ben and Andy (the events managers at RT East and RT NYC respectively – lots of thanks to both!) the planets aligned between a holiday in New York and Field Music’s American tour…

RT NYC has a proper, dedicated event space at the back of the shop. None of this rolling the CD racks aside and moving all the stock off the stage before the show for those Americans. Nope, instead there’s venue good for about 300 people with a bar (and actual decent beer on tap…) and an upstairs balcony (where Lampy and I installed ourselves for the evening).

Two support acts went on before Field Music: Imaginary People and The Effects. Even if the sound man wasn’t trying to sabotage

Devin Ocampo with Dave Rich in Green…

Imaginary People at every opportunity, their music didn’t really do much for me. I suspect that properly produced they’d be a lot more interesting… (but not so interesting that I’d actually shell out on an album without a good deal more persuading). I like my music to have something a little special in there somewhere, that something that grabs your attention and transfixes you. It might be an astounding voice (like Kristine Leschper from Mothers); or cerebral lyrics shot through with acidic whit (like a certain Mr J.Grant), or a stage show that grips you so completely that the last song could have lasted 3 minutes or 30 for all you knew (like Viet Cong at Green Man last year…). Imaginary People didn’t have any of these, but The Effects on the other hand were a bit of a different matter…

If we ignore the fact that the venue didn’t have a dedicated lighting engineer and and instead the soundman bathed the band in glorious RED for the duration of their set and just talk about their music I have to say I was really impressed. This is gripping music where surging guitar riffs and beautifully precise picking is coupled with enthralling changes in pace, structure and direction then cut by perfectly timed breaks sharper than a Samurai Sword 12891722_1008152085888685_6791240333216575534_o.jpgin a Savile Row suit. The beat of the songs is driven by the symbiotic paring of the drums of David Rich and the lead guitar of Devin Ocampo with the guitar driving as much of the rhythm as the drums. Clever stuff and a very tight set delivered by excellent musicians. I hope these guys come to the UK soon – I’d definitely be in the queue to see them!

I encountered Field Music first (directly) through the joys of Six Music, then later through their album Commontime. Indirectly I’d also unwittingly encountered their production

handy work through an album called Ripe by Slug. Based on the evidence of these offerings, I had “high expectations” for this set and Field Music did not in anyway disappoint (this turn of phrase was the subject of much banter between the crowd and the band). Live, Field Music are one of those rare bands that sound just as tight as their their studio recordings. The 12898162_1008159685887925_6052521727582587729_ovocals are pitch perfect, the guitar and beats are all spot on, but in addition you get some cracking musical flourishes and a little bonus northern whit thrown in. Listening to their album I’d picked up how the style of the guitar and drums changed between some tracks. Well it turns out this is when brothers Pete and David Brewis switch between lead guitar and drums – talented chaps indeed!

From a geeky photographic standpoint, the balcony at RT NYC does make for a very different set of shots from the “straight up the nose” type you get standing right in front of the stage and this is a lot of fun to play with. The lighting rig at the venue is also quite a spectacular thing… Well, it could be with a little thought. If the moving head wash lights facing the stage were focussed on the band (and not the front few ranks of the crowd) and

Attentive? On the ball?

also not spewing out monotone RED, this would have mitigated some of the ferocious (and none too flattering) downlighting of the two banks of LED pars directly above the stage. It looks like a white backdrop was set up for a projector (which wasn’t used by any of the acts performing this time around). Loosing this and using the rear bank of pars to light the black backdrop rather than gently irradiate the drummer and perhaps angling the front bank of pars across the stage to get a little side light, along with programming some decent chases, could really make for a spectacular set up – all the kit’s there, just needs a little work. Lampy was somewhat ranty on the subject… And kicked herself for not taking over the shiny lighting desk and having a play…

Rough Trade NYC 26/03/2016

More photos here…



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