29 August 2014 (gig)
29 August 2014
Sunflowerfest is a weekend festival of music, arts and entertainment that takes place on a farm a dozen or so miles from Belfast. Now in its fifth year it has gained a reputation as a great place for up and coming bands to showcase as well as a chance to see established bands in a family friendly atmosphere and a bucolic setting.
And it was as the sun was setting behind the tumbling drumlin Down landscape (yes, with little fluffy clouds) that headliners The Orb took to the main stage. Anyone familiar with the Orb's oeuvre will instantly recognise their peculiar blend of ambient aural delights that proved perfect for the setting and the motely crew of new age hippies, the artsy fartsy and young families that comprised most of the crowd on the festival's first day.
Alex Patterson ably assisted by Thomas Fehimann had no difficulty in getting the crowd on their side but that task was made so much easier by what had just gone before. And that was a revelation in the form of a band from Waterford in the south of Ireland.
They had travelled up for their first ever gig out of their homeland after having recently reformed and their name is King Kong Company. From the start they shook the assembly out of its smokey herbal stupor with a set that was at once regressive and transformative. Like the simian giant from where they get their monikor this group as balls as big as brass – and I am not just talking about the trumpet and trombone employed to great effect.
Their sound was huge. Impossible to categorise it was a mish mash of reggae, dance and rock. Think A Certain Ratio meets the Rolling Stones mixed by Leftfield on a bad acid trip and it might conjure some of the anarchy and joie de vivre that this band can transmit.
The bearded drummer provided the throbbing backbeat to Kong's monster tunes sometimes even taking to the bongo's to give the evening a tribal feel that was very much in context with the gig's surroundings. This was my first time at Summerfest and I was well impressed with the understated security; the fact that campers could bring their own booze; the mixture of the contemporary and the cultural and the general friendliness of the whole event. One for the diary next year.