08.08.2011, Words by Ruth Saxelby


“This is the first time we’ve been out in daylight for a while,” deadpanned Darkstar’s singer James Buttery to the small ocean of heads gathered in the Blogger’s Delight tent at Field Day. The two original members – Aiden Whalley and James Young – flanked him in dark jackets, leaning over synths, laptops, pads and indecipherable boxes. It was quarter to three in the afternoon and Darkstar didn’t look entirely at home on the bright stage, exposed even, but they battled through a few technical issues with only a flinch flickering across Aiden’s face. Heads down, they built a slow, towering tension that overcame all: the opening glitches, their discomfort, the day. Bass clicks and backwards whooshes seeped into the crowd, claiming territory and focusing minds and eyes. At the opening bars of Gold, and at James B’s urging, we began to dance. He had two mics in front of him, one of which was linked to a pedal enabling him to record and loop his voice – mournful calls into an abyss – to layer up a choir of himself. As the rattling drum kicks of North rained down, he leaned back, swaying. While the circumstances might have been less than perfect, Darkstar forged through to bring their world, their ideas, their night to life in that corner of Victoria Park, stealing the festival for me. It was a tremendous, deeply affecting set: “I won’t forget you”, the pained refrain of When It’s Gone, seeming to swim above our heads as they departed the stage.

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