In the aftermath of the disaster that was 'Woodstock 99', there stood a foregone conclusion that the State of New York would not hear a note from a music festival for generations to come. However, the powers that be decided this couldn't happen, they wanted to initiate another with aspirations of dawning a new annual flocking, while distancing itself from a connection or repeat of Woodstock, by creating the newly titled "Field Day Festival" in 2003. This momentous event originally scheduled to take place in a grassy field in Calverton, New York, and attract 50,000 music lovers, was changed 2 days before the festival because organizers couldn't get the appropriate security permits. The festival had to be moved to Giants stadium in New Jersey, and was condensed into one day, dropping: the price, the attendance, the camping, and some major acts originally billed: Sigur Ros, Interpol, the Roots, N.E.R.D. and the Streets. Already primed for hearing a weekend of live music, me and some friends begrudgingly resigned to getting some new ticket stubs.
Enter car and the drive down to East Rutherford, with anticipation of taking part in pre-festival football stadium tailgating. Unfortunately, the sky snatched victory from the already defeated and rain viciously poured down, refusing to let up for the next 11 straight hours. In-car-gating ensued with piss American beer water. Downing half a case between 4 of us and finally deeming the remainder useless as is, we put on brave smiles and accepted the cloud's crying on us.
Venturing across the parking lot towards the destination, we came to acknowledge that one stage was actually placed outside the stadium, which seemed peculiar. Shrugging shoulders and entering the big bowl shaped premises, we quickly observed a sparse, sparse crowd and all dressed for Water World.
First sounds to hit were exiting from Liz Phair rocking out in a skirt, enthralled with her command of the stage, I was content. During the ensuing break, half our crew decided they weren't content with befriending the rain, and retreated for the sheltered sections of the stadium. The bravery, Me and Tiiu, came to the conclusion there was no wetter than the wet we dripped, and onward we pushed towards the front of the stage.
On came a religious act, the lead singer dawning long, pretty boy hair, and the next 40 minutes performance by Spiritualized was most accurately summed by a male to our right booming out "YEAH CREED". Beth Orton came on strong, cracking jokes between song to pick up the crowds spirit, but got tiring. Energy was restored by the Underworld camp, their DJing instinctively had Tiiu dashing backwards to less crowded puddle splashed dancing. Next came my nemeses, Blur, the arch rival of Oasis, I entered this showing with vigorous hatred, for obvious reasons. Damon Alburn came out carrying plenty of raincoats to disperse and brought himself front and center into the rain. The band easily won me over in their set, and to this day I listen to "Tender" weekly with sweet nostalgia of the rain's sweet taste on that June day.
A huge grin hit with knowledge of the next name on the bill: Beck. Unfortunately, I seem destined to go without nostalgia of having seen this man live. Confused? Understatement for my emotions on June 7th, 2003. After a long, long delay before his set, an official finally came to the middle of the stage and announced that while Beck was side stage watching Blur, he slipped, fell and was now on his way to the hospital and will not be performing. %^@&!
Also, our lack of desire to travel back outside the grounds to get to the side stage, resulted in our sadly missing Bright Eyes and one of the last performances before Elliott Smith decided to end his life.
Tiiu's nervous, Tiiu's ecstatic, Tiiu's nervously ecstatic...and on come the BEASTIE BOYS, twenty-one years in waiting for her, and their first show together in three years! Mix Master Mike aside, the pro-longed absence proved itself. Forgetting lyrics, forgetting MC turns, and starting into the wrong songs filled their time on stage. With the band laughing it off and the audience being forgiving, a good time was had. One image I can't forget is how tiny 'Adrock', 'Mike D' and 'MCA' actually are. Humorous how artists are built up to be these characters imagined as high as the sky, but when they're finally presented to you in person, there's disappointment that their heads are no taller than your own.
With Beck gone and our teeth chattering from the relentless rain and the oncoming night, I held my hopes for the day being saved by the final act, and if your gonna put all the weight in the world on one bands shoulders...why not Radiohead. Unbelievable. The best show I have ever seen in my entire life. Not only did they do the impossible by matching the album 'Hail To the Thief''s sound live, but they somehow trumped it by making the songs more electrifying and had it all a soundtrack for some amazing visuals. They even stopped the rain, be it for a short lived ten minutes. With the bittersweet rain returning, Thom Yorke chimed in on 'Paranoid Android' enthusiastically singing "Rain down / Rain down / Come on Rain Down on Me".
And just like that the Festivals existence was rained out!