Last Saturday, London’s Columbo Group (operators of Phonox, The Nest and XOYO to name but a few) and the team behind Outlook and Dimensions festivals, took their variety is paramount ethos and injected it into a new festival outing – Sunfall, at south London’s Brockwell Park. Comprised of a day billing and separate night events sprawled across the south of the capital, the roster of selected artists was distinctly heterogeneous, with a slew of key tastemakers across the dance continuum invited to contribute.
The air was thick as club night-turned-label Boxed had their slot. Slackk and pals played a slew of grime excursions packed with many a square wave melody and swung clap lines. Next saw Zomby step up and decisively mess with what was a reasonably consistent set (obviously clad in a Guy Fawkes Anonymous mask). With a crowd drawing as fast as it did, it’s clear the producer’s flitting journey through all things eski, techno and jungle was the only concern in the tent.
Sunfall’s techno billing found its home on the West Stage and failed to disappoint. Ostgut Ton heavyweight and Panorama Bar resident Ryan Elliott was warmly greeted by a crowd now closely resembling the contents of a sweatbox. Beckoned with consistent cheers, the American generously conceded with his moody blend of spectral techno and intricate mixing prowess.
As Kamasi Washington graced the main stage the festival was really starting to get busy. While it’s obviously worth noting the jazzman’s work on To Pimp A Butterfly, it was very clear he and his band didn’t feel a single tie to Kendrick when playing. The band’s rampant performance was a flurried window into contemporary and classic jazz. They barely gave themselves respite, but when things got too heated, virtuosity from each and every musician was weaved in, from woodwind trills, percussive outbursts and drawn out crescendos, many of which almost halted the dance in the process – a clear highlight.
Jamie XX was a fitting close to festivities. In and amongst smoke and red sky, he played crowd favourites from his own back catalogue alongside other material, as well as reaching around for some of his own root influences; you’d have been forgiven for thinking DMZ had got their set time wrong at one point, with the London DJ slipping in a fair few steppers.
The curation of a new London festival was always going to be a challenge. Designing a brand and coherent roster is no easy feat, and likely takes careful thought to get right. Instead of looking for gaps in the market or problems with the existing offering, Sunfall was an idea neatly executed on existing proven solutions. Through the support of collectives, labels and clubs at the forefront of their respective scenes, Sunfall exuded an air of confidence, usually beyond that of inaugural events; it proceeded with the purpose and intent of any long-standing cult affair.
Images: Dan Medhurst
Words: Nick Moore