“Sugar and spice and all things nice. Fire and lasers and lots of bright lights…” this is the story portrayed by a great number of modern British festivals. It’s the monetisation of a culture that was born in darkened warehouses along the M25 and has in some cases progressed to Disneyland levels of production and organisation.
Field Maneuvers is the antithesis of this trend: a grassroots revolution somewhere near Oxford, where good vibes outrank stage décor and real musicians take precedent over ticket sales. With a capacity the size of some wedding receptions, you would be forgiven for expecting a line up populated with local heroes and promoter-cum-DJ types. However, Field Manuevers continues to defy expectations by boasting a line-up over 50-deep curated for the ardent music heads. Artists have been shipped in from house and techno’s various spiritual homes across the world: From Berghain to Brooklyn, from Grime and Garage originators to Motor City Heroes. Here we list the 5 we’re most excited about seeing.
In what seems like the most wild card selection in the otherwise techno heads roster, the godfather of Grime, Slimzee, will be in attendance. The proud owner of the first ever ASBO, Slimzee was producing the grime instrumentals and setting up pirate aerials in London’s estates before Nokias had polyphonic ringtones. Over nearly two decades, he has held his throne. Expect a set full of vintage dubplates you couldn’t get hold of even if you sold your grandparents.
THE BLACK MADONNA
The Black Madonna is a name that’s been cropping up more and more this side of the pond. A house virtuoso with a punk’s heart, she speaks with passion on everything from female empowerment to fine cheeses. Her rise to legend status began as well as anyone could hope for, with a residency alongside Frankie Knuckles at Chicago’s Smart Bar. More recently she has released a slew of mixes that bump her Chicago roots sound including a banging FACT podcast and her debut Boiler Room session.
Daniel Avery’s mastery of superfluid machinations has carved a niche only he can fill. After the underground success of debut LP ‘Drone Logic’, any festival with his name emblazoned upon the line-up has attracted fans of the disembodied, chopped-then-screwed progressions that only Avery’s fluctuating textures can sate. His presence at Field Maneuvers shows they are in the serious business of serious music.
With 20 years of crate-digging mastery and legendary events behind her, few are more qualified to work a crowd than Jane Fitz. Her Night Moves parties focus on low-profile, bare bones musical liberation and have succeeded in drawing a dedicated family of followers, leading to Fitz presenting her own tent at Field Maneuvers alongside co-host Jade Seattle. Whether she is playing deep, leftfield house in Japan or psychedelic ambient in the Freerotation chill-out yurt, you can expect a set filled with mysterious, wonky tracks you won’t hear anywhere else.
After initially blowing up in the aftershocks of the post-dubstep wave, Blawan has released some of the most exciting techno of past years. His progressively more gritty and analogue sound ranges from the frenetic percussions of “Peaches (Coronation)” to the downright disturbing “”Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage.” Through his collaborations as Karenn (with Pariah) and Trade (with Surgeon), he has revealed a penchant for eye-wateringly brutal techno. Witnessing his performance with Surgeon at Dekmantel 2013 culminated in us stomping through the floor of Amsterdam Bos and dealing with an acute case of tinnitus on the ferry home from Calais. Here’s hoping for more of the same at Field Maneuvers. We will see you on the other side.
Words by David March