To say that London five-piece Fields are louder onstage than on record is a vast understatement. Their American debut 7 for the Village, which compiles a couple of British EPs, is a mix of pastoral folk with a heavy shoegaze influence. "Songs for the Fields" and "Brittlesticks" are the only two things on the record that approach "rocking" and to look at the band, you might mistake them for a Fairport Convention cover band.
But live, Fields are full-on shoegazers of the Ride / Swervedriver / early Boo Radleys variety, and their Mercury Lounge show was one of the loudest I've experienced in years. I wore earplugs the whole time but could feel the volume in my chest. There were no quiet songs, like the EP's "Sisters" or "Roll Down the Hill" -- or they were given the sandblaster treatment. The loud songs from 7 for the Village became aural hurricanes. Yet the sound was really clear: the dense harmonies and the band's melodic sense came through the voluminous squall of guitars. Even singer Nick Piell's acoustic guitar managed not to feed back (not an easy feat).
The show's highlight for me was new song "If You Fail," that will be the first single from Field's upcoming debut album. I'm a little curious what veteran producer Michael Beinhorn (he's worked with everyone from Soul Asylum to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mew and Ozzy Ozbourne) is going to do to Fields' sound, but if he can capture what they do in front of an audience, it will be worth hearing.
With fellowminded groups like Dirty on Purpose, Silversun Pickups and Serena Maneesh, we are in the midst of a shoegaze revival and, as someone who was around and witnessed (and had his ears damaged by) the early-'90s original scene, Fields are contenders to the new throne.
Fields were supposed to be opening for The Bluetones (they never did much for me) who had a fair number of UK hits in the mid-'90s, but due to mysterious circumstances they had to cancel at the last minute. Openers Murder Mystery were better-than-average apers of '70s era Lou Reed.