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Saturday the 12th of August saw Sunfall Festival return for its second year to Brockwell Park in South London with night sessions taking place at various venues across the city. The line-up, albeit a bit obvious, was made up of some of the biggest and exciting names in electronic music. Sunfall by Day boasted sets by Beautiful Swimmers, Ben UFO, Shanti Celeste, Helena Hauff and Theo Parrish, with Roy Ayers and Larry Heard billed for live sets.
One search for ‘Sunfall’ on Twitter reveals a series of angry complaints and pictures of the ridiculously long queues that many faced when they arrived mid-afternoon for the festival. I got a message from a friend telling us not to head along at that point and thus we instead opted for exploring Brixton until the queues died down.
We eventually arrived at around 6 pm to barely any queues at all. However, due to our late arrival we had missed most of the people we had wanted to see, with Helena Hauff and Beautiful Swimmers having done their slots earlier on in the day. We headed straight for the north stage, a large tent close to the entrance of the festival. The tent was packed as Ben UFO took to the stage and despite the upset that had been evident earlier in the day the crowd seemed to be on board for all that was happening. Ben UFO delivered a set that delved on the lighter side of techno with a few housier vocal tracks like an edit of Mike Dunn's 'God Made Me Phunky' fired in close to the end, an entirely different set from the incredibly intimate one I'd seen him play at Optimo 20 just the weekend before. Songs like ‘Tin’ by Daphni brought the room to life, although it never really went to the place everyone was eager to get to, more due to the size of the tent and the poor sound than anything else. Jackmaster took to the stage just as Ben finished and started off his set with ‘XTC’ by Boys Noize. We stayed for a couple minutes longer before beelining to the main stage for the festival's highlight, Larry Heard performing as Mr Fingers.
This was Heard’s first live performance in London in over 20 years and it certainly didn't disappoint. With Mr. White by his side, he gently guided the crowd through what seemed like a history lesson of Mr Fingers, performing tracks like 'On My Way' fairly early on before arriving at the mid noughties acid house classic 'The Sun Can't Compare'. Ahead of the set I was worried that tracks off his forthcoming album wouldn't bring the euphoric feeling that the rest of his stuff does but I was proved wrong. A standout from his new album, ‘Full Moon’ went down a treat with much of the audience getting just as involved with that as they did with classics like ‘Déjà Vu’. Sunfall prides themselves on the quality of sound at the festival yet I found it lacking close to the main stage. When Heard began to tease the crowd with the certified floor filler ‘Can You Feel It’, it was somewhat lost as the bass was hard to hear, if there at all. However, when the vocals came in everyone lost it and that feeling that comes when you hear it in a club was amplified tenfold.
As the sun fell on Sunfall (sorry), the parties split up and headed in all directions both in terms of location and music genre. Corsica Studios and Make Me hosted a techno and electro-fuelled line-up including Ben UFO, Helena Hauff, A Made Up Sound, Shanti Celeste and Call Super, whereas The Jazz Cafe and Worldwide FM hosted a more laid back jazz-centred evening session with Yusef Kamal and Giles Peterson on the bill. We opted for the Numbers night at Village Underground with Jayda G, Peggy Gou, Jackmaster and DJ Bone.
Time management isn't me and my friends' strongest quality and so sadly we missed Jayda G. Despite this, the night was still enjoyable and played out as most other Numbers nights do: Busy, sweaty and daft. The crowd was going for it all night, at points making the music inaudible with their cheers, especially during Jackmaster and Peggy Gou’s b2b. Most of the strong selections were made by Gou, playing classics like Alden Tyrell's 'Hills of Honolulu' to profound effect. On our end, much of the night was lost to a massive game of nautical puns, although we did manage to catch DJ Bone at the end before cycling off on some Boris bikes.
Images by: Blise Orr
Words by: Amy Krawczyk Listen at: subcity.org/shows/contentcontent