Field Day brings in 2023 with confetti, queues and a house music revival

Field Day
The Domain, January 1

When Beyoncé wanted to make an album of house music, she turned to Honey Dijon.

The American DJ and producer, raised in Chicago, the birthplace of house music in the ’80s, co-produced two of the biggest tracks on Beyonce’s Renaissance, which paid tribute to the black history of house music and introduced some of the most hallowed tracks in the genre’s canon to a mainstream audience.

Honey Dijon performs at Field Day Festival, The Domain, on January 1, 2023Credit:Anna Warr

It makes sense then that Field Day, the celebration of hip-hop and electronic music held in Sydney’s Domain (almost) every year since 2002, would also look to the DJ and producer, who epitomises house music’s rise and mainstream revival in 2022.

House music fans in Australia rated Honey Dijon long before she became a Beyoncé collaborator; her recorded set at Melbourne’s Sugar Mountain in 2018 is among the most-watched YouTube videos on Boiler Room, the popular electronic music broadcasting channel. Playing her third festival slot in four days, the veteran DJ showed you don’t need psychedelic light shows and flamethrowers (ala Dom Dolla, Diplo) to entrance a crowd as she weaved hits from Renaissance into a typically high-energy set.

There was no Field Day in 2021, and 2022 was a scaled-back affair featuring mostly local artists and a limited crowd.

Watching American DJs and British rappers perform in their third Australian city in as many days, it’s easy to forget those early days of summer 2022, when almost everyone seemed to be isolating with COVID and the events industry was on its knees. Especially hard to imagine when you’ve just spent 40 minutes in a queue for the portaloo, or paid almost $15 for vodka from a can.

DJ and music producer Diplo gets the crowd going at Field Day 2023, with a little help from some flamethrowers. Credit:Jordan Munns

The festival’s lineup, spread across three stages, crammed into one afternoon many of the same headliners who played Victoria’s three-day Beyond the Valley festival, making for some tough choices: between Grammy-winning Canadian producer Kaytranada and England’s Patrick Topping, Australian music festival favourite Dom Dolla and Belgian techno sensation Charlotte De Witte.

Ultimately, the 20,000 or so in attendance were split between America’s Diplo on the main stage and Bicep, the DJ duo who started out in clubs and warehouses in Belfast and now fill festival fields. The latter capped off Field Day 2023 in a similar vein to their Glastonbury slot earlier in the year, with a mix of two of their biggest hits, Glue and Apricots — accessible acid-house inspired tracks that had the crowd in raptures.

Diplo, meanwhile, blasted confetti into the crowd while mixing Men At Work’s Land Down Under into the same set as Pitbull’s Hotel Room Service. The result might be slightly jarring, but ultimately gave the crowd what they came for: the chance to see some of the world’s biggest acts at a major music festival, all just a surge-price Uber away from a cool shower and a real bed.

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