Sunfall Festival 2017 review

Ellie Swain gives her verdict on the South London all-dayer that offered up sets from Ben UFO, The Black Madonna, Peggy Gou and more.

Skiddle Staff

Last updated: 18th Aug 2017.
Originally published: 17th Aug 2017

Image: Dan Medhurst Photography (credit)

Now in its second year, Sunfall festival, nestled within South London’s urban Brockwell Park in the vibrant and hip Brixton, took place on Saturday 12th August. As a South-Londoner myself, the festival was seemingly talk of the town over the past week and I couldn’t go too far without noticing a reference in a trendy local magazine, or an excited mention from an acquaintance popping up on social media.

‘A celebration of the underground; Sunfall’s music policy reflects the many sounds of the city and beyond spanning jazz, electronica, house, hip hop, dubstep, techno, soul, drum & bass and disco.’ states the Sunfall website. And with a huge variety of both evergreen and fresh artists such as the likes of the legend Larry Heard aka Mr Fingers, newcomer Peggy Gou and Rinse FM resident Ben UFO, it’s safe to say expectations were high.

On arrival, an immense queue snaking around the walls of the festival didn’t give us the best first impression. ‘We’ve been queuing for over three hours’ pained and frustrated festival-goers informed us when we went to investigate. Word has it that around 2 pm local police had commanded more thorough security checks, and the lengthy waiting times would have no doubt affected thousands of people’s Sunfall experience.

Once inside the arena, however, we had little issue with any queuing and any previous frustrations slowly melted away as we were drawn to the groovy disco-tunes emerging from the East stage tent. Berlin-based Palms Trax were playing a B2B session with Amsterdam-established DJ Antal, a seemingly dreamy union. Still reasonably early on in the festival, the atmosphere was relaxed and the happy-go-lucky beats instantly put us in a cheery and hedonistic mood. 

Luckily the festival was small and easy to navigate, so it didn’t take us long to skip over to the open-air main stage where Motor City Drum Ensemble aka Danilo Plessow was pleasing the revelers with his soulful house anthems. With crowds jigging at the front along with people spread out eating and drinking on the grass in the sun, the mood was again laid-back and easy-going, the dancing not yet as frantic as one could expect for an electronic music festival.

A quick change of scenery saw us hop over to the North stage, to catch half an hour of Ben UFO’s tinkly garage-laced techno rhythms before our return to the main stage to check out a live performance from Brit boy Floating points.

I was impressed; the music was eclectic and exciting, ranging from jerky and hypnotic beats to slower and more theatrical melodies. ‘ARP3’ had the masses grooving and waving their arms, with many making an effort to lift their pals onto their shoulders to get a better view, as you do at a festival. A stunning scattering of dramatic clouds against the sunset made the set all the more magical - my personal favourite of the evening.

It was time to join our last set of the festival, a B2B session of The Black Madonna and HAAI in the rammed East stage tent. We somehow miraculously stumbled our way right to the front of the set and went from feeling reasonably content and breezy with our alfresco dancing at the main stage to feeling completely sweaty and very warm. But that’s what festivals are all about right? 

In the East stage, there was no doubt we were absolutely adoring life; the set was wild and jam-packed, with wavy entrancing tunes that had our heads whirling, such as the likes of Trance Wax’s ‘Trance 7’. The night had flown by, and it concluded on a high, with fantastic flashing blue lighting, the usual smoke effects and most importantly, quality music.

Festivals 2018