Field Trip 2015: A Review

Field Trip 2015 PosterA new month and a new goal: Posting in this blog once a week. April and May were crazy months for me, both work-wise and personally. June should be calmer, at least on the work-front, and hopefully I’ll be able to meet my goal.

Let’s start with an easy post — a review of this weekend’s Field Trip music festival. The third edition of this boutique festival was once again held at Fort York/Garrison Commons and once again featured two stages, a kids-zone and a wide variety of food vendors (no Pizza Pizza here).

While I skipped year #2, I was at the first Field Trip and now, three years in, this festival just keeps getting better and better. My only real complaint is about something the organizers have no control over: the weather. Though Saturday was fairly sunny and warm during the afternoon, the evening was cold. And Sunday was overcast, windy and eventually rainy. 

I suspect that the weather was part of the reason why Sunday was clearly less busy than Saturday. The lineup also likely had something to do with it. While Father John Misty’s Sunday set was my favourite of the weekend (besides being a talented songwriter, he’s a very charismatic and entertaining performer), Saturday had the biggest name of the weekend: the Alabama Shakes. I didn’t catch all of their set in part because illness forced me to leave a bit early but what I did see was good though nothing spectacular. Lead singer Brittany Howard certainly has an impressive voice and is a comfortable present on stage but I just didn’t find myself connecting to the set (but to be fair, I did feel like I was about to vomit).

The other reason I missed some of Alabama Shakes is that I was busy watching Purity Ring, my second favourite set of the weekend. They went on late (I suspect the fancy lighting had something to do with that) and had song-stopping tech problems but still, the Edmonton-based duo managed to capture my mine and the crowd around me’s interest. Visually, the show was impressive, particularly for a festival setting (though given the tech problems, maybe a little too ambitious), and vocalist Megan James was just awesome to watch and hear. It also helped that their music is quite dance-able and on that cold night, having an excuse to dance was a great thing. (Note: The video below wasn’t taken by me; I just found it on YouTube).

Tickets for this year’s edition of the festival were $120 for the weekend ($70 for the day) and were a fantastic value in my opinion. Based on the many happy people I saw at Field Trip, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only who feels that way. I fully expect that Field Trip will be back  in 2016 and I plan on being there.

Things That Worked

  • The lineup is a great variety of genres and while the focus is naturally on acts that are promoting new records, the inclusion of “older” acts like De La Soul is quite refreshing.
  • Lineups for almost everything were minimal, meaning I waited for five minutes or less to do everything from buying food to entering the festival to using a porta-potty.
  • Speaking of porta-potties, the ones I used were cleaner than some public washrooms out there. They were clean, fully stocked with toilet paper and anti-bacterial gel and outside were the portable sinks that offered real water and soap.
  • Field Trip bills itself as being family-friendly and it completely delivers on that promise. The separate kiddie area is packed with fun activities (including bouncy castles that I wish adults could use) and I swear that every fourth couple was pushing a stroller.
  • Maybe it was because there were so many families there but the crowd was fantastic. There was no pushing, everyone was respectful of each other’s space and things like lines and while people were drinking, there was no annoying drunken behaviour that I could see.

Things That Could Be Improved

  • I only encountered a real line once during the whole festival and that was Saturday night when my friends and I wanted coffee/tea/hot cocoa. There was only one vendor who sold such products and at that time of day, they were probably the busiest vendor at the whole festival. Next year, someone else needs to offer hot beverages.
  • More cold beverage options also would be great. There are so many great juice/lemonade options out there and it would be nice to see them offered at the festival (oh, and milkshakes).
  • New this year was the Comedy Barracks, which was a great idea though one I completely missed because it was over by 6pm. Next year it would be nice if it ran into the evening.
  • While a few of the sponsors offered phone charging stations, and there was the “powered-by-you” charging bike, more charging spots would have been great to see.

2 thoughts on “Field Trip 2015: A Review

  1. dan kershaw

    i like oz! think i’ll visit more often. i’m sort of catching up, and this is a good primer. question re purity ring (music sounds wonderful, btw): 2 people on stage that i see; one singing, one seems to be playing percussion on balloons. were they performing to track? if so, how do you feel about that? here’s my take on alabama shakes: i think their songs start out as jams onto which they graft some singing with a simple lyric that fits the groove. great sound; brittany howard – fantastic singer, & they’ve got that tight/sloppy groove like exile-era rolling stones, which comes from friends playing together A LOT. but…no songs. riffs.

    1. Good take on Alabama Shakes and yeah, Brittany Howard is quite the talent. As for Purity Ring, I’m sure they are using some prerecorded tracks and you know what, I’m OK with that. It might not be completely live but they are still giving me a performance and letting me experience the music with a bunch of fellow fans in an environment that’s a lot more interesting than my house (plus my neighbours would hate me if I tried to play my music that loud).

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