The Field gets lost in the Trees at The Indy

The-FieldPhotos by James Nagel

The Field‘s ‘A/V’ performance at The Independent Thursday night was a bit of a joke – audience expectations were not even close to being met and producer Axel Willner was the only person in on the laugh. Known for his driving, dreamy micro-house production, Axel Willner performed one grand, meandering soundscape for about 45 minutes before calling it a night. The set inspired little to no dancing from the crowd – and attendees seemed ready to let loose. Not a single cut was performed or recreated from his three records – a fact that had the Thursday night crowd scratching their collective heads. When an artist is able to fill a room based on his production catalogue, then does something completely different than expected, it will be perceived either as a risky success or a huge middle finger. The show fell short of expectations and creating something special, a double whammy of disappointment any way you look at it.

About half an hour into the performance, it began to feel like an Andy Kaufman-esque expiriment. People were already trickling out of the venue, and not a semblance of percussion nor a minimalist beat had been incorporated into the droning, atmospheric mental masturbation The Field was generating. Willner looked like he was in a patient daze, more interested in drinking his red wine than giving the crowd what they wanted – something to move to. The first half of the performance proved to be all wandering build-up toward a more thundering and throbbing final 20 minutes. The dreamscape gave way to a loud, repetitious trance that felt like early Animal Collective with muted vocal sampling. Then the set was put to bed slowly while ears were still ringing.

The-Field

Billed as a “completely immersive audio/visual sensory experience”, the show only utilized flat, projected imagery of trees in a forrest. Produced by artist Sonia Alvarez, the video mirrored the music of the night by projecting one long take of a person walking through a forrest with a camera at a high angle. Combined with Willner’s sound, the visuals did give you a feeling of being lost, but not exact immersed. House lights were not used, and the headliner continuously appeared and retreated behind the contrasting visual of trees and sky. To be fully immersive, the set needed more visual support and additional tempo changes.

The-Field

The Field, on the other hand, probably could care less. Willner set out to produce a new concert performance, and based on expectations he basically fell flat on his ass. He has huge balls to hold the audience captive from get go, and it’s remarkable that he never broke into the churning micro-house rhythms he’s know for. The Field should be given some credit for challenging the conventional concept of sound in a live performance, but The Field is just lost in the trees.

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