Sunfall review – festival aces billing as the muso's choice

Brockwell Park, London
Jamie xx plays his best tracks to a befitting sunset while Kamasi Washington keeps it cosmic, before the vibe transfers to club afterparties

With signs giving the technical specifications of speaker stacks and a crowd more disposed to cans of craft IPA than balloons, Sunfall positions itself as the muso’s choice, and, giant toilet queues aside, does pretty much everything right on its first outing.

The ever-excellent Shackleton cruises across plateaus of sustained breakbeat before order is violently disrupted with the arrival of bass kicks. There’s a humidity spike in the next tent along for Fatima Yamaha, with terrace chants for his rescued-from-obscurity track What’s a Girl to Do. But he’s no one-hit wonder – his set of dinky deep house, sprinkled with enraptured kawaii synths, is one of the day’s most immediate pleasures.

A reveller enjoys the music at sunset at Sunfall
A reveller enjoys the music at sunset. Photograph: Dan Medhurst

On record and in sweatbox clubs, Mala and Coki (aka Digital Mystikz) have sketched out urban dread in obsidian cross-hatching – but in a leafy park on a nice afternoon they fall flat, resorting to now-kitsch dubstep wobble to inject vigour. Zomby, his anonymity behind a mask an increasingly tiresome pose, plays an equally tepid set of muffled deep house, though later, when the festival splits into a series of afterparties, he magnificently tears up Corsica Studios.

Jamie xx at Sunfall.
Jamie xx at Sunfall. Photograph: Dan Medhurst

Kamasi Washington plays the main stage, and whenever his set threatens to get bogged in stodgy funk, there’ll be a cosmic flute or drum solo to hoist it aloft. Moodymann may give off a mildly sexist vibe with his fan-wielding harem, but his disco set is fifth-pint perfection, while headliner Jamie xx deserves the beautiful sunset afforded him. DJing a set sprinkled with his own work, he moves crowd-pleasingly from deep skanking to Kyla to Roy Davis Jr and onward – the “cardioid sub bass array” holding up nicely throughout.


Ben Beaumont-Thomas

The GuardianTramp

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