Set within the lush grounds of Gilcombe farm, Somerset, Field trip festival brings together some of the best names in DnB, house, techno and trance. All blasted out through some lovely sounding systems. Beginning as a 1 day event back in 2015 the event has grown rapidly into the 3 day August bank holiday weekender it is now. This year has seen a change of venue from Wiltshire to Gilcombe, which has been the home of Shindig weekender in recent years. Seems like a pretty good time for a little reviewing.
Our arrival at the farm was pretty smooth, despite getting lost as we neared the venue. Perhaps some more signage next year? A little help over the phone from the staff and we were soon pulling up in the crew area and getting our tent set up. It was a lush day and managed to remain as lush all through the weekend. Not a cloud in the sky for the most part. Tent set we went on up to the box office to collect our wristbands. Sadly we had to wait for a while as the event was late opening. The council had to sign the site off still from what I understand. A minor set back and the event would definitely prove to be worth the wait.
About 2pm we finally got our bands and set off to explore the site. The layout was really well thought through, both in the main area, and the campsites. A huge meadow for the tent campers with pathways marked out using simple fencing. At one end of this, the glamping area. At the top end of the field were some pretty futuristic looking wheelie bin loos. Nice touch! Then on one side of the field the gate through to both crew camping and the live in field. At the other the security checkpoint through to the main arena. Once inside the main field you had 5 arenas to choose from, 6 including the Meet me there cocktail bar which had its music playing every day as well. The main stage was situated immediately to the left and was placed in a way that the ground rose up from the front of the stage, meaning that even when you were nowhere near the front you still had a clear view of the stage. And the stage itself was awesome. Designed by the organisers themselves, the stage consisted of stacked shipping container with 2 giant chimneys at either side of the DJ booth. Whilst visually pleasing during the day, it was at night that this stage really came to life with an epic lighting display. Perfect for some of the acts to come on the Saturday and Sunday nights. The rest of the main field spread down to the right. The tunnel stage was the closest to the main stage but the hill I spoke of before worked really well to prevent any sound clash. I think this is perhaps the reason the tunnel stage remained playing until 4am each day when the others all closed earlier. A huge funky stack provided some beautiful sound to this huge marquee and the bar was also to be found here. The remaining 3 arenas each played host to a different take over each day. The big top was probably the most popular arena of the weekend, featuring a huge showcase of dnb talent through the course of the festival, although I personally really liked the woods tent, maybe because I am a huge trance fan but more because of the small, underground, kinda hodge-podged feel to this arena, featuring a wonky looking stack that felt like it might blow the room open at any moment.
Friday wasn't overly busy, with only 2 of the arenas and the cocktail bar open, Most people didn't seem to be arriving until later on ready for the weekend itself. It was more of a warm up party ready for the main attraction. But what a warm up it was. After a couple of hours in the bar of the tunnel listening to the opening sets from Candy man and Dewi we ventured over to the big top where we found the DnB party MCs playing host to a lively crowd of ravers. These guys sure were spirited. We skanked out for a while before popping to the cocktail bar where we caught a little bit of Madlocks set. We bounced around the event for most of the eve. Highlights were Khemical in the big top and ZenZero in the tunnel. Even whilst quiet as the event had an electrifying vibe. It was a real pleasure to be here. It was with some reluctance that we got an early-ish night to prepare for the Saturday....
At around 11am we awoke to many more people arriving on site. It looked like today things were going to get serious. The main stage opened at 12 with one of Fieldtrips Dj comp winners, Connor C (well done!!) who was followed up Ice Cream club. We listened in from the novelty giant deckchairs just off from the main stage. These along with the many hammocks dotted around the site were a wonderful little touch which brought comfort to many over the baking hot weekend. After developing a bit of a tan we went over to woods arena to see Infinite Turtles as part of the Toadstool takeover. The arena looked awesome today thanks to the colourful psychedelic wall hangings brought by the Toadstool crew.
2 hours later we emerged from the immersive set, soaked in sweat and very thirsty so it was time for another one of the fessies fine cocktails before going and getting some food. All the food available on site was supplied by Gilcombe farm. I believe that the farm allows for a reduced price for land use if they make this food arrangement. A brilliant idea as it not only makes the event more profitable for the farm, but also helps to keep the events ticket prices down to the exceptionally good rates they are.
Food and cocktails sorted we headed to the big top and the Viper live takeover. It was booming in here. What a rig!! Mob tactics and Koven both living up to their reputations and getting the crowd hyped up and bouncing. Next up was possibly the highlight of the whole event. At 9pm Faithless took to the main stage, which was now glowing purple and adorned with some exceptionally talented fire artists. Faithless definitely drew the largest crowd of the event as you may expect. And Sister Bliss absolutely smashed it laying down banger after banger until 11pm. The crowds dispersed over to various other stages but for us it was over to the Ministry of sound arena to see Camelphat (love these guys) and then on to to the viper stage for DJ hype (Kind of a bummer that this was only a half hour set). After hype we headed back to the tunnel where we partied until 4am to the sounds of Wilko and Will White. The atmosphere was charged and the people were wonderfully happy and interesting. Everywhere you looked you would find someone spinning poi or staffs. And all quite happy to impart their knowledge and skills. A fine end to a fine day!!
Sunday began with the second comp winner DJ Gaw. Wicked set, big ups to this guy. Had a pleasant couple of hours in the sun watching Gaw and Blockeye ft Tailored sound. Supping more cocktails and socialising with all the wonderful peeps who were attending. Other than a few remarks about the security staff (more later), everyone was hyped up, happy and really impressed with the quality of the event and it epic line up, which was at its best today. There was a lot of dnb, it seemed to be the most prevalent genre but thats to be expected given the events locale. There were however a lot of big names from the techno and trance scene. Just people generally seemed less enticed to these acts.
As the day progressed we roamed around catching J man in the tunnel and the first part of the Run tingz cru's set before heading over to see Alternate. Benny Page played one of the best sets of the event in my opinion. The tunnel was packed out with lairy ravers all loving life to the sounds of banging jungle. And this was followed up by nothing other than Goldie looking chain's 16 years legends set, yet another highlight of fieldtrip and in fact my whole festival calender. It was a totally different vibe to most of the event but GLC attracted a huge crowd over to the pow wow stage and put on a superb show, Chilled out, bouncy hip hop comedy genius. After GLC we found ourselves spoilt for choice. Serial killaz and Five alive, Eat static, Leftfield, Catz n Dogz, Aphrodite and fearless, serum and carasel, Dillinja, Randall, Bryan Gee and GQ, the list could go on. We trotted around from stage to stage, exhausted by this point but still raving our little hearts out until the very end of a really extraordiney night. Highlights were Aphrodite in the big top and Eat static immediately followed by Leftfield at the main stage. Oh and not forgetting the grand finale to the night at 3am in the tunnel. Fieldtrips secret headliner turned out to be none other than Latnum, a tech house all star who played the event last year before his career took off. We expended the last of our energy bouncing it out at the front, appreciating the awesome sound of the funktion 1 system for the last time of the weekend, before half crawling back to our tent to rest up ready for the journey home.
So to summarise the event was a definite success, despite a few teething problems in the organisation, i.e., the council making for a late start and the lack of knowledge I noticed amongst a few of the stewards in the parking areas. The music selection was unrivalled at any festival I have attended at the same sort of price. Beautiful venue, incredible sound systems and wicked vibes.
Sadly I have to make 2 negative points. Firstly the 6 beer / 1 wine alcohol limit is a bit much. While I fully appreciate the fact that there needs to be some form of limit at these smaller events as they aren't sponsored and they make money from the bar I feel this was a tad extreme, especially considering the bar wasn't very cheap. Maybe 12 cans or a 1 litre spirit as many other events allow.
Secondly, the security firm used by the event this year were awful. In general they were rude and obnoxious, they seemed to solely there to find drugs which isn't so bad apart from the guards we caught trying to sell what they had confiscated. They were forcing everyone on the campsite to let them in their vans / tents to do thorough searches even with no evidence to suggest the peeps may be doing anything wrong. They were accomplishing this through means of intimidation and threats of removal. Not nice for all the innocent festival goers who just want a good time. I heard several stories from punters and had a few run in myself. After being searched for the 4th or so time with no real justification I actually spoke to the head of security and told him I was there to review and what id experienced. He totally changed his attitude to me when I told him that and I was left alone after that. Coincidence? He also claimed that the guard caught selling would be dealt with accordingly. Who knows. Needless to say I felt this had to be mentioned but I also know that having heard reports from several punters the event staff have assured everyone they will not be hiring Security Nation for next years event. And besides it didn't cause that big of an issue.
So Field trip is an event we will definitely be attending again. I can see room for improvement (few more stalls maybe) but as an event in its 3rd year its done exceptionally well. We can see it growing into a really incredible festival if it keeps on improving at the rate it has since it began and we look forward to experiencing it grow over the years to come. Big thanks to Jack, Ryan, Willow and all the crew for having us and we hope to see you all next year.
Published on 27 January 2018 by Keiran Dunne-Davidson and Dan Bunney