Sunfall Festival (2017)

Returning to South London for a second year, Sunfall stayed true to its name and brought with it a wealth of sunshine for all those hoping for a saunter in the sun. With a lineup infused with legendary names such as Roy Ayers and the honorable Larry Heard A.K.A. Mr.Fingers, who returned to the capital after a 20 year hiatus, Sunfall promised to be an eclectic playground for all revellers.

Alas, all was not well. Eager and anticipatory attendees soon had their excitement drained after being left to wait in queues of over two hours upon arrival. Even more worrying however, were the surges of bodies at the gates, as stewards forfeited their duties in the face of frustrated punters. Unfortunately the struggle upon arrival left a bitter taste in many a mouth, a bitterness that seemed to linger on as sound quality was constantly bemoaned throughout the day. There was however, a stellar lineup which needed attending to.

On the Main Stage, veteran funk, jazz and soul legend Roy Ayers broke out the apt ‘Everybody Loves the Sunshine’ to a responsive crowd who were just relieved to have finally made it inside the arena. Meanwhile on the West Stage, Detroit selector Theo Parrish made full use of his four hour set with swooning disco and house cuts.

Inevitably however, it wasn’t until feel good maestro MCDE dug into his record collection that the crowd really got into the swing of things and were able to put aside the incredibly frustrating start to the day. All the house and disco groovers you could wish for accompanied the sunshine on the main stage, as the man behind the decks did what he does best. A beautifully curated set made for one of those special festival moments, as the weather and the music perfectly complemented one another. After bopping to a myriad of classics, including Lemelle’s ‘You Got Something Special’, Floating Points followed to tackle one of his famous live sets.

The stage became a synthesizer-laden spectacle as he immersed the now hyped up crowd in a blend of soundscapes and drum machines. We were in for a very special treat though, as amongst the set of well known and appreciated tracks some brand new material was teased. Although it’s a track that he’s apparently been teasing for over a year, some opportunist individual took the initiative to record footage and share it on Facebook (check the popular music sharing groups). As the sun began to fall (pun intended) behind the trees, Floating Points gifted us a fabulous send off with ‘Nuits Sonores’ and the party was just beginning.

The North Stage saw an array of party starters grace its decks, with Peggy Gou and Shanti Celeste fostering a playful atmosphere sculpted by their chic selections. Following Celeste was the ever popular Helena Hauff, whose crunky, acid-infused break beats swelled the crowd and brought rapturous clamours from a tent now on fire.

It was however, the East Stage and Move D which treated us to the set of Sunfall. Looking typically nonchalant and like the cool uncle you wish you had, D had the tent in the palm of his hand, and sealed the deal with the Bee Gees’ ‘You Should Be Dancing’.

Meanwhile, Hessle Audio’s Ben UFO gave the North Stage a rhythmic tombola of selections which culminated with Sound Stream’s ‘Bass Affairs’. Jackmaster followed up and demonstrated his unerring talent to bend a crowd to his will, beautifully captured by a slowed down version of Quibko’s ‘Disco Connection’.

It was the return of Mr. Fingers however, that everyone had been waiting for. Despite a Main Stage which seemed oddly placed, leaving half the crowd some distance away, Heard’s live show was scintillating. ‘Missing You’ made an inevitable appearance and the crowd’s response was truly deafening, whilst Fingers’ ‘Closer’, and ‘What About This Love’ seemed to remove the negativities brought about by the logistical issues earlier in the day.

As after parties went, Numbers at Village Underground hit the spot, one of nine happening around the city. Notoriously vivacious Scots Denis Sulta and Jackmaster upped their festival bpm and played harder than most had heard before, fitting of such an industrial and sweat-laden setting. The Scots left having engineered a buoyant mood for a room full of hungry revellers, only for Peggy Gou to turn to her darker side and lay an ogre of a set down before Detroit stalwart DJ Bone saw the Village home with an orgasm of techno beauties.

[Images: Dan Medhurst]