As the sun fell over Brockwell park there really was only one name on everyone’s lips, the legendary Larry Heard making his return to UK for the first time in 20 years. A gradual stream of people from various tents meandered down towards the Sunfall Main Stage to form an ocean of smiling faces as his gentle voice graced the mic. As humble as ever, he shared his delight to be here before unleashing one of the most emotional electronic music experiences I’ve ever witnessed. Getting things off to a sensual start with “Mystery Of Love”, Larry accompanied by long term collaborate Mr White eased the crowd through some of the deepest, most soulful house, washing away any prior feelings of angst after struggling through ridiculous queues and overt police presence at the door. As the last stragglers started to fill in any gaps, friends were seen all around greeting each other with hugs and kisses after who knows how long apart. The feelings were gradually heating as the duo ramped up a gear concentrating their ethereal acid sounds, amalgamating in fever pitch during a rendition of one of Mr. Fingers most recent releases “Qwazars”. The crowd raised in elevation, elated spirits all round, hands on heads in disbelief, what actually is going on? There was such a smooth and direct flow of the set with generally little time to stop and take a breather, one solid stream the whole time accompanied by lo-fi graphics zooming through the depths of space tying the whole experience together. Moving on from this the last moments of sun were serenaded with a few choicely timed Mr White jams, “The Sun can’t Compare” and then “Aeroplanes” perfectly accompanied by a powerful low flying jumbo jet roaring overhead.
With the crowd suitably warmed up and feeling raised to Larry’s level, the duo took things on a spiritual tip, easing in with Glenn Undergrounds Thank You mix of “Praise”. The graphics followed suit, showing a man seemingly made of juicy fruit pulsing away to the beat. The general vibe from then on was truly religious, some commenting a little cheesy, but I was fully in it. It felt as though Larry was directing us to a higher power with lyrics “Become the light, feel the light!” to an emotional finale tied up with the ultimate classic “Can You Feel It”. What was one to do with themselves after that?! A moment to sit and decompress was much needed, but the herd soon started to migrate towards their night session of choice…
An undoubtedly righteous show, baptised in the deepest font of House, but the day wasn’t an all round fun time. Many a complaint from all manner of today’s methods of communication rang true with the theme of disorganisation and mammoth queues, some 4hrs to get in and 1hr for a beer. A few decisions such as metal gated queue for the bar and increased security searches around 2pm due to overzealous police could’ve definitely been avoided to ease pain, and it is a shame that Sunfall 2017 was plagued with tedious queues, questionable sound in the tents and familiarly overpriced beers…
This was a great shame as there were many stellar acts which went majorly unappreciated towards the start; Peggy Gou dressed in her red top and blue dungarees looking like Mario popping beats like shells, red preferably knocking Goombas out with a 1-2 click getting the revellers moving like they slippin frick banana slip, only a few people in bobbin in this dip.
One real highlight of the billing was the extended set from Theo Parrish, commanding the crowd with sincere g authority and riding through house riddims like a breeze. True vet. Driving into powerful bongo beats rhythms with kick and distant tribal wails dancing the tempo up and down, jogging pitch smooth like velvet. Jazzy house numbers with wild synths into a sound cut out, the crowd hails “just play records!” While handling it like a smooth don papa he jumps straight into uplifting house getting the crowd straight back to dancing. Again it happens then slides up a gear with a techno slammer, expertly feathering the tempo down to a slow amble the crowd wobbles to the sub bass, literally in the palm of his hand.
The lack of powerful sound in the tents drew me to check the main stage where Romare was just stepping up with his very full and wholesome sound, with little to no bleed from other stages. Roland drum pads hitting very clean an powerful, lowkey jazz sax riding in, very hypnotic. Main stage had an absolute stack of martin audio subs, so punchy you feel it right there in your chest bringing power to Romare’s sound. Very nice array of live instruments all sounded nicely spaced out with room to breath and swirl, real feel good sensations showing how powerful live music is in bringing people together.
My life, my life in the sunshine! Everyone loves it, instant mood elevation, Roy Ayers raises the crowd in an beat. Very soulful vibes bobbin away, he took it at a darling pace while his band were incredibly tight, such power in the bassist you can tell these friends had been playing together a long time. Smooth grooves sliding through the low hanging sun, bass notes verb piano keys chime a soothing breather for the crowd as Roy vibraphones away, pumpin to full disco vibes super loose dancing ensue; tight fruity grooves. Craaazzzzyyy drum solo hype hype hype crowd feels it then the bassist finishes of in a cheeky another one bites the dust riff to close things off. A truly heartwarming live performance!
MCDE follows on this electricity with ease playing his trademark disco funk techno sound playing tracks like Straight Lines’ “Everybody Wants To Be A Star” and Cratebug’s “Acid Train”, he kept the movement flowing through expertly to Floating Points’ Live set, which was phenomenal as always.
Overall the Main Stage supplied many a choice musical experience and made for a thoroughly enjoyable day.
Words – Edward Keef
All photos courtesy of Dan Medhurst