The first day of Wild Fields, Norfolk’s first socially distanced festival, had an excellent variety of talented artists.
Attendees were assigned a 3m by 3m pod for their group of up to six people. These worked very well in terms of social distancing, with similar measures being in place for the second stage and for queuing arrangements at the various food stalls at the event. The level of effort put in to ensure the safety of attendees was remarkable, with hygiene stations placed around the site for everyone’s use. That being said, here are my highlights from the festival’s first day!
Gabby Rivers, a young singer/songwriter from Suffolk with an indie rock/pop sound, was the first act of the day. An incredible start to the festival, with an impressive stage presence. She performed a selection of songs from her Headache EP as well as some others, with a particular highlight being the song “Real Life,” a song about the intricacies of online courtship versus real life: “you like me back but we can’t talk over Snapchat” is a line from the pre-hook. Her band was impressive as well, with her drummer’s performance particularly standing out in the closing song “Headache,” and the keyboardist adding a unique depth to the production to make the performances stand out from the studio versions. Proceeds from her EP, released in April early during the pandemic, go to the NHS. You can listen to it on Spotify here.
Colchester band Anorak Patch were the third act from the main stage, providing tongue-in-cheek alternative/indie rock. The song “Beans” was about what you’d expect, and the opening repetition of “BEANS” was hard not to shout along to- I had to remain professional, of course. They also performed their most popular track “6 Week Party,” as well as the currently unreleased “Irate” amongst some others.
From the second stage, UEA’s Gail showcased her talent with songs like “Gold Beemer,” a song about her desire for the titular car- or maybe a baby blue one. It’s about other things as well of course, with an incredibly catchy chorus that I had in my head at work the next day at 5AM. Her songwriting is refreshing and poetic, with the song “Juliet’s Wings” standing out with its creative use of lines from Romeo and Juliet.
The penultimate act of the day Another Sky were exceptional, with their rich synth instrumentals accompanying the unique voice of their lead singer Catrin Vincent perfectly. Her range was fully utilized on the closing track “Avalanche,” with her voice switching easily between lower and higher pitches. Their talent as musicians was most clear in the introductions to each track, with many of them having up to a minute of complex instrumental before Vincent began to sing.
Saturday’s final act was Gengahr, an indie rock band with a polished sound. Despite a slight delay to their set starting they proved themselves more than worth the wait, the performance of the ridiculously danceable “Heavenly Maybe” being one of my absolute favourites of the whole day.
The social distancing measures didn’t stop the enthusiasm of the crowd, with a particular highlight being the audience’s singalong to the previously mentioned “Beans” by Anorak Patch.
People enjoy festivals in different ways, though, myself included. As well as those that were drinking and partying, there were those who chose to sit back on a comfortable chair and relax whilst listening to some great music, which wouldn’t really be possible in a pre-COVID festival.
On the whole, Wild Fields succeeded in giving us the blueprint for a socially distanced festival. Performance quality was not compromised on any level, and neither was safety: the best possible outcome.