Now in its third year, London’s brightest new festival opened its doors today to welcome the masses into one of the city’s most beautiful Parks for the ultimate summer Sunday.
And it lived up to that description, with crowds wowed by a jaw-dropping headlining set from Foals, with stunning appearances from Bonobo, Wild Beasts, Laura Marling, Michael Kiwanuka and many more, plus a dizzying array of experiences to discover on the day including a Science Camp, the Sunday Papers Live and delicious food and drink.
The beating heart of the festival, the Main Stage was quality right from the get go. Two hotly-tipped acts from Ireland kicked things off (Picture This and Hudson Taylor) followed by NYC brass-funk band Lucky Chops. One of the most highly anticipated sets of the day came next in the form of electro-folk newcomer Maggie Rogers, and she did not disappoint with an ethereal set. Enigmatic Australian musician RY-X set the stage beautifully for beloved homegrown talent Laura Marling, delivering exquisite renditions of tracks from her acclaimed new album Semper Femina and fan favourites from her five previous albums. The multi-award winning Wild Beasts lived up to the hype with a crowd-winning set, followed by a mesmerising live show from one of the best producers on the planet – Bonobo – as the sun set, setting an electric atmosphere for Foals’ headlining appearance.
The Communion stage showcased the label’s finest signings and affiliated artists as soon as the doors opened. Newcomers Joseph J Jones, Banfi and Margaret Glaspy provided ample evidence of why they’re hotly tipped with equally engaging sets. Genre-hopping singer-songwriter Nadine Shah’s appearance was a particular highlight of the day, as was a tempo-changing raucous set from US garage-rockers Twin Peaks. The idiosyncratic Dan Croll was next up, followed by indie-pop dup Sylvan Esso, who charmed the crowd with takes from their latest album, What Now. The billing’s crescendo came in the form of acclaimed, BBC Sound of winner Michael Kiwanuka, whose recent album Love & Hate drew widespread acclaim upon its release in 2016. It truly came into its own in an astounding set from the multi-talented soul artist.
Elsewhere, brand new stage The Kasbah with Clash & last.fm debuted with a series of lush performances from a variety of indie, folk, alt and world music artists, including newcomers Charlie Straw, Ardyn and Jake Isaac, fast-rising bands Vessels and Parcels, plus high energy appearances from Malian Grammy Award winner Oumou Sangaré and Tuareg guitar sensation Bombino. Headliners A Blaze Of Feather, the new project from Citadel 2015 headliner Ben Howard, took to the stage to huge crowds for a set that saw Ben take a background role – but the results were no less impressive.
The JägerHaus made its debut at Citadel, featuring DJ sets from the aforementioned Wild Beasts plus Everything Everything, and Corona SunSets brought the sound of Balearics to the Park with a varied line-up that included a rousing headlining performance from the House Gospel Choir performing a Frankie Knuckles Tribute. At DIY at the Kopparberg Urban Forest, some of the coolest new acts on the scene (Yonaka, Oscar Jerome, Cosmic Strip) appeared, and the Smirnoff House enjoyed sounds provided by a series of respected cratediggers. The Bandstand is one of the most merry pockets of the Park, and this year was no different – with summer vibes provided by Reggae Roast, The Future Dub Project and many more.
It wouldn’t be the ultimate summer Sunday without some extraordinary experiences. The Science Camp made its debut – crowds were wowed by out-of-this-world workshops and were even introduced to the Science Museum’s ROBOTS.
Sunday Papers Live returned to bring the broadsheets to life for another thought-provoking, engaging afternoon of spoken word, talks and debates: particular highlights included a discussion of current affairs with Channel 4 International News Editor Lindsey Hilsum and appearances from comedians Shappi Khorsandi and Dane Baptiste, amongst others.
Revellers flocked to The Artist Studio with The Indytute to Get Rich Or Tie Dying and even create Icing As Art with a programme of eclectic creative workshops. Sweat was broken at The Spandex Stage, providing fun workouts with a twist from Dancehall Workouts to Voga. New stage Cloud Nine played host to a Baby Rave with Big Fish Little Fish (with fabric resident Terry Francis and garage legends Two Bad Mice providing the beats) as well as a roots and reggae mini stage with Love Vinyl. Elsewhere, there was a Pop-Up Stage, the folk-fused madness of the Roller Hoedown, and eccentric walkabout performers roaming the Park.
The ultimate summer Sunday drew to a close with a fittingly awe-inspiring headlining set from one of the best live bands on the planet, Foals. Performing to a huge Main Stage crowd, they powered through classic after classic with unrelenting energy, truly delivering the extra special set they had promised – full of old songs and rarities.