Sundown Festival is storming into 2020, announcing its first names for what promises to be the festival’s biggest year yet. Heading back to Norfolk Showground in Norwich across three days this September and following a mammoth 2019, this year’s event looks set to close the summer in style, with camping, weekend and day tickets on sale this Friday.
Known as one of the world’s biggest party starters, the unstoppable Sean Paul is one of two headliners to be announced for Sundown 2020. Arguably the most iconic dancehall artist of all time, the crossover superstar will be treating Norwich to an unforgettable headline set, with the arena set to shake to the likes of ‘Get Busy’, ‘Temperature’, ‘Breathe’ and legendary features including ‘Rockabye’, ‘Cheap Thrills’, ‘Boasty’ and many more. Needless to say, this is going to be one of the biggest moments of the summer.
One of the leading voices in confessional hip hop, award-winning UK rapper-turned-superstar Loyle Carner is guaranteed to bring an electrifying headline set to Sundown Festival. With expert craftsmanship and remarkable lyrical resonance, not to mention hits for days across his two studio albums, Carner has become one of the hottest festival bookings of the past few years, with his headline performance looking set to be nothing short of spectacular.
Bringing her smooth reinvention of turn-of-the-century Soul, R&B and British pop music, Sundown Festival is delighted to welcome Raye to the Main Stage in 2020. Forging her path in the UK pop scene, the soon-to-be superstar will treat fans to hits including ‘You Don’t Know Me’, ‘Decline’ and countless others. Also joining the Main Stage line up will be superstar in waiting Becky Hill, whose recent smash ‘Wish You Well’ has stormed into the charts, ready to go off when Sundown comes around this September.
Joining these pop sensations at Sundown Festival will be Fredo and Bugzy Malone who took 2019 by storm with an expert mix of vital and refreshing cuts, with the latter setting pulses racing after his recent collaboration with Aitch, while Fredo and Dave’s ‘Funky Friday’ defined summer 2019. Famed for master lyricism, their infectious jams will be perfect at this summer’s closing extravaganza. Meanwhile, Jay1 and Jaykae will be bringing Midlands-infused grime to the masses, and the main stage will be hosted by KISS all weekend.
BBC Sound Of winner Ray BLK will also appear on Sundown’s main stage, and dance legend Example will return to Sundown with unforgettable classics ‘Changed The Way You Kissed Me’ ‘Kickstarts’ and more, a firm favourite of the festival. The Manor and Wilkinson will also bless the main stage with their presence, with more names to be announced.
In addition to a huge Main Stage lineup, Sundown Festival will continue to provide a haven of genre-defying performances from the very best in drum and bass, house and techno.
The Friday Campers Party will feature Holy Goof, Hybrid Minds and Young T & Bugsey. Taking over the Castle Stage, Defected will be in attendance with the full crew plus special guests Sam Divine, Low Steppa, Ferreck Dawn, Endor and Jess Bays.
Building on previous collaborations at the festival, renowned bass leaders UKF will see the iconic Shy Fx, party starters My Nu Leng, dubstep legend Flux Pavillion, Notion, Bou and Harriet Jaxxon take to the stage for what promises to be a legendary takeover.
Solardo will be bringing Higher to Sundown for the first time in 2020, with a series of even more infectious sets. Joined by rising stars including Eli Brown, Franky Wah, Latmun and SOSA, it looks set to be truly unforgettable.
Also making an appearance at Sundown 2020, Hospitality will unleash revered DNB acts including Camo & Krooked,S.P.Y, Kings of the Rollers & Inja, Metrik, Randall, Nu:Logic (Nu:Tone & Logistics), Etherwood, T>I B2B Saxxon, Daxta MC, Carasel and Dynamite MC. Needless to say, it’s going to pop off.
Back for a fourth year due to unparalleled popular demand and fresh after their stunning new look in 2019, the Mystree stage welcomes Weiss, LeftWing: Kody, Majestic, Nathan Dawe, Martin Ikin, Artful Dodger, producer extraordinaire Conducta, Sammy Verji, Illyus & Barrientos, George Mensah and Harry Pearce to the stage this summer, which will no doubt be huge.
The Isle of Wight Festival makes its triumphant return for 2020 with a huge line-up of music icons marking the first major festival of the summer over 11th – 14th June.
Friday’s headliners both make their Isle of Wight Festival debut in 2020; international superstar Lionel Richie will co-headline the Main Stage alongside GRAMMY and BRIT Award-nominated man of the moment Lewis Capaldi. Special guest Pete Tong will bring the spirit of Ibiza to Seaclose Park, as he closes the Main Stage on Friday night with his Ibiza Classics.
Since debuting 20 years ago, Saturday co-headliners Snow Patrol have amassed over 17 million global album sales, 1 billion global track streams and countless award wins. They’re joined in headlining duties by The Chemical Brothers, a duo who redefined the concept of live electronic music, bagged six UK Number 1 albums, four GRAMMY wins and a reputation for a transcendent live experience.
Duran Duran, in a UK festival exclusive, will close the Main Stage on Sunday night. The British music icons and purveyors of triumphant pop music will see out the 2020 event in style.
Acts also announced today are (in alphabetical order): Becky Hill, Dido, Example, Happy Mondays, James Arthur, JC Stewart, Kaiser Chiefs, Maisie Peters, Primal Scream, Sam Fender, Shed Seven, Sigma (DJ set), Supergrass and The Manor
Tickets for The Isle of Wight Festival 2020 event are on sale Friday 6th December at 9am.
Common People might be the littlest sister of UK behemoth Bestival, but it certainly packs it’s own unique punch. Held on Southampton Common (with a twin over in Oxford now too) it’s a two day hedonistic escape without the sleeping-on-a-rollmat or not-showering-for-four-days element, and as such, is an altogether pleasant affair.
Saturday sees the likes of Elvana (Elvis fronted Nirvana) doing, well… exactly what it says on the tin I suppose, and Loyle Carner whipping a tshirt around the stage and rapping hits from his debut album, to a sun-drenched and almost feverish front row made almost exclusively of ladies. Over on the Uncommon stage, local lads Fever are whipping up a storm with their classic punky rock vibes to a packed tent.
The arena itself is decorated with a well-known Josie Da Bank feel to it, silk flags flutter in the breeze and there are fairy lights, lanterns and rainbow streamers everywhere, but it’s the heart installation which simply reads ‘Manchester’ which stands out the most. After such a terrible event, it’s affirming to know that people will still make their way to a festival like this, but the increased police presence was very noticeable.
Despite the somewhat sobering feeling of walking past armed police to enter the festival, the atmosphere is free spirited and fun. The Kids area is packed with people attempting circus skills, hula hooping, bubble blowing and getting their faces painted. Hidden away in a magical little copse, it really does have that hazy secret summer feel to it, and the Jam Jar Bar is serving up delicious treats for the bigger kids. Did someone say Rhubarb Martini?
Over in The People’s Front Room, which is dressed up as a shabby-chic front room in case you were wondering… people are grooving along to funky sounds, but it’s pretty tightly packed so we’re off to check out the food options, which never disappoint at CP. Back in the dark old days of UK festivals your best hope was paying over the odds for some soggy chips and a distinctly grey looking burger, but at Common People your culinary compass can spin all around the world. From Paella to Macaroni Cheese, to thali boxes or soft shell crab burgers, there is nothing common about this menu. We can particularly recommend the brie, pear and walnut from The Gourmet Grilled Cheese Co. which was pretty flippin decadent.
Back at the main stage there are rows upon rows of screaming, glitter-bedazzled girls greeting a very dapper looking Tom Odell who is playing a roaring set from behind his giant centre-stage piano. Calling out “Southampton! Closest I’ll get to a home gig this season, back home, back in the badlands” Tom is returned with a chorus of “Marry me Tom!” from a group of young ladies who look like they might faint at any moment. One particular hardcore Odell fan has actually travelled with her father and sister from Brazil to see him here, now that is commitment!
Next up is Sister Bliss playing a Faithless DJ set in the deep evening sunshine which naturally has everyone up and dancing. ‘We Come 1’ is so heavy it rattles the panels of the helter skelter and Bliss looks right at home here in her sequinned bomber jacket.
Over to Pete Tong and The Heritage Orchestra to bang out some Ibiza classics and honestly, it is overwhelmingly amazing. Conductor Jules Buckley stands, arms spread wide in front of three tiers of orchestra and Pete Tong perched amongst the rafters at an LED lit mixing desk and they begin. It’s a strange sensation knowing these classics to be, to put it bluntly, somewhat simple musically speaking – but hearing them performed by the orchestra just brings them to a whole new level. Massive hits such as Fatboy Slim’s ‘Right Here, Right Now’ and Faithless’ ‘We Come 1’ get the full orchestral treatment but bathed in lasers and smoke. It’s strangely satisfying and retains the intensity of the original tracks. Pete also pays tribute to Manchester noting that it’s ‘on our minds’ before introducing Ella Eyre to sing ‘Good Life’ and Rudimental’s ‘Waiting All Night’ which are insanely good. Finishing up with Becky Hill on ‘You Got The Love’ has the whole crowd singing along and Pete Tong quips “We can’t pretend to go off and come back on again, there are too many of us!” as they close the show. With a mass surge out of the gates and into the town, day one of Common People is over and it’s been a blinder.
Sunday on Southampton Common seems a lot quieter, there are a smattering of people milling around for the first bands but it’s pretty sparse, at a guess some people went very hard last night and are nursing some pretty epic hangovers today.
The Novatones who come out strong and belt around the stage with their classic punk rock sound and jumping antics, it’s a great set and a shame so few people were out to see it. The Black Kat Boppers make short work of getting everyone who has made it in, up and dancing some sort of hybrid swing-come-dad-moves.
to being ‘stuck in traffic’ Nadia Rose appears to have all but missed her slot and Calum Lintott, who has just finished a set on the Uncommon Stage is hauled in to fill the time. He looks nervous as hell at first, forgets to plug in his guitar… “That’s a good start isn’t it! I did not expect to be doing this today” and waves awkwardly at his family out in the arena, but he pulls off a frankly fantastic second set anyway. Even the security guards are clapping along by the end and Calum seems pretty stoked about getting to play the main stage, ‘English Daisy’ and ‘Baby I’m Insane’ are going straight on the playlist.
Whilst Signals are mid set-up and sound check, Nadia Rose finally makes it to the main stage – albeit shoe-horned into the side with the DJ booth, accompanied by a large posse. Rocking a red bomber, with matching trainers and visible pants, as well as her signature space bun hairstyle – she is every bit the rapper celebrity the young front row have come to see. Busting out ‘Skwod’ and ‘Boom’ she has boundless energy and is absolutely fierce in her delivery, but it was maybe a little unnecessary of her to complain that “I’ve got a short set today, because I was put on late, but whatever” when it doesn’t seem like anyone was really at fault for that.
A brief but substantial downpour sees herds of people diving into bars and tents for shelter, which Amy MacDonald finds highly amusing “It seems a lot of people are scared of a little bit of rain… that’s a drizzle in Glasgow… southern softies eh?”. Standing in front of a broadway-esque red ruched curtain, the Scottish musician plays a storming set highlighted by recent hit ‘This is the Life’ but the rowdy contingent of Common People are squished side by side into the rainbow-ribboned Uncontained Stage area for Fat Man Scoop. Stalwart of the school disco, Fatman Scoop is of course playing an absolute cheese-fest of hits. Rocking lounge shorts and pool slides he leaves the decks to dance with three stunned kids who’ve been pulled from the crowd for DMX’s ‘Party Up’ but decides to get them to cover their eyes for his brief bout of topless shimmying. Good call Scoop, good call. ‘Be Faithful’ is exactly as obnoxiously loud and fun as you’d imagine, and with the appearance of Goldie, it’s just what we needed to get out of the grim weather funk.
Over on the main stage the House Gospel Choir are giving huge club hits in their distinctive style, notably a cover of Robin S’ ‘Show Me Love’, to a massive crowd. Up next British Sea Power aren’t garnering the same sort of response due to their softer, melodic sounds, but the front few rows seem to be die-hard fans who are absolutely loving them and their strange selection of stage-foliage.
Natives are shredding the Uncommon Stage with loads of people dancing and jumping around in the tent, and the bouncy castle has been dried and re-opened to hordes of terrifyingly fearless children. With a single experimental bounce and what thankfully was a minor collision with a manically grinning cannonball of a small girl, it’s time to escape to safety. Off to a less violent affair, lashings of glitter makeup from Dust & Dance and obligatory hair braiding, before heading over to see Wild Beasts. Flanked by flashing panel lights and a giant backdrop from their latest album ‘Boy King’ they have a distinct electronic rock sound that is definitely piquing some interest in the now quieter arena. I think they’re going to be the hot playlist add following the weekend, but I’m not sure they’re quite what everyone was waiting for.
Groove Armada pick it back up with a solid set of classic dance music, and I know it’s specifically listed as a DJ set but they really are holed up at the back of the stage behind a giant table. Why can’t DJ’s be at the forefront and engage with the crowd in any way other than that wistful sort of pointing into the sky reminiscent of Steve Zissou? Anyway… as they continue through the set the crowd builds and gets increasingly rowdy, during a remix of Breach’s ‘Let’s Jack’ security are rushed into the main stage pit to hold the barriers as people push against them whilst dancing.
After a couple of choice cocktails at The Day of the Dead Bar it’s down to Sean Paul to close out Common People 2017. Swaggering onstage in a dusty trenchcoat and a pair of sunglasses, Sean Paul looks every bit the nonchalant celebrity, but as ‘Get Busy’ begins it’s clear he is here to move and shake that thing as much as the crowd is. Flanked by two extremely energetic dancers, Sean Paul makes his way through a plethora of his classic hits such as ‘Baby Boy’, but it’s his version of Sia’s ‘Cheap Thrills’ that we are both wincing at, and simultaneously loving. It also then mixes into Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’ and honestly It’s hard to assign one feeling to something like that. To explain, he changes the words… a lot. Enough to have no idea what’s going on except for the tune.
Calling out “We’re bringing you music from around the world tonight… we’ve got music from Jamaica, we’ve been to Australia with Sia… the UK with Ed Sheeran… who wants to go to Trinidad and Tobago with me?” we can’t help but think he’s playing the metaphor because his driver (easily spotted by being the only one at the back of the crowd sporting a full suit and tie) is looking horrified at the idea of driving anywhere other than home after this.
The crowd is getting considerably louder and wilder as the show goes on, and during ‘Temperature’ two girls are hauled over the barrier by security for having a scrap over which one can get closer to Sean Paul. It’s 50-50 on the funny/baffling ratio. Ending with a chant of “Say no no no, we ain’t going home” is fun until it’s actually time to go home and return to the real world, but at least there’s a bank holiday tomorrow to recover. Oh Common People you have once again been superb, with your eclectic mix of music, beautiful décor and incredible extra-entertainment options you are really anything but common, and you know it. Roll on 2017, and if you can’t wait that long for your fix, there’s always the larger scale Camp Bestival and Bestival to continue those CP feels.
But that’s not all, The Common Stage will see sublime dancefloor duo Groove Armada hitting the decks to provide their own inimitable brand of booty shaking brilliance with appearances from Wild Beasts, Foals (DJ set), The Selecter + The Beat, Saint Etienne, Amy MacDonald, House Gospel Choir and Lucy Leave On Saturday in Oxford, while South Park’s Sunday mainstage action will see BRITs Critics’ Choice winner 2017 Rag’n’Bone Man’s staggering vocals and gospel-powered grooves, plus music from Becky Hill, The Cuban Brothers, Elvana: Elvis Fronted Nirvana and Coldredlight.
And in Southampton, The Common Stage will see BRITs Critics’ Choice winner 2013 Tom Odell’s charismatic swagger and rave legends Faithless on the ones & twos, plus there will be appearances from Loyle Carner, Becky Hill, Stefflon Don, Seán McGowan, Kassassin Street, Elvana: Elvis Fronted Nirvana and Black Kat Boppers on Saturday. And Groove Armada, Wild Beasts, British Sea Power, Amy MacDonald, Nadia Rose, Novelist, House Gospel Choir, Signals and The Novatones will appear on Sunday.
Filling your dancing boots throughout the weekend, the Uncontained Stage will be jumping with My Nu Leng & M8s and very special guest Goldie, Novelist, Redlight, GotSome and Klose One, all stepping up to the plates to drop bombs on Saturday in Oxford and Sunday in Southampton, while hands in the air behaviour will come courtesy of Moxie presents On Loop featuring sets from Joy Orbison, Midland, Kornél Kovács, Felix Dickinson and Or:la on Saturday in Southampton and Sunday in Oxford.
Discovering new music is what gets the man like da Bank out of bed in the morning, it’s the very the lifeblood of the Bestival team! So, we’ve teamed up with fellow new music evangelist and Oxford institution Nightshift once again to showcase the best new local bands alongside some of the most exciting acts around on the Uncommon Stage, including ShaoDow, Zaia, The Balkan Wanderers, Jess Hall & Barney Morse Brown, Kanadia, Vienna Ditto, Death of Hi-Fi, Leader, Young Women's Music Project, Rhymeskeemz, The Shapes, Low Island, Desert Storm, The Epstein, Little Red, The Pink Diamond Revue, Catgod and Slate Hearts.
And continuing our long and illustrious partnership with The Joiners in Southampton we are delighted to present Beans on Toast, Black Honey, Natives, Happy Accidents, Cassava, Fever, XOCKHA, Feeble Grandpa, Scarecrow Boat, Nakamarra, Gun Shy and Deltorers.
Oxford will see universal dance adventures at The Pig’s Big Record Club Stage, hosted by the Shellac Collective 78s DJs and ensuring the party always swings, there will be a host of local DJs from Southampton and Oxford across the weekend.
With amazing music keeping your feet moving throughout the bank holiday weekend, we’ll be bringing a little taste of our legendary madness and mayhem ramping up the Bestival antics to transform Common People into an amazing festival wonderland, with plenty of our off-the-wall shenanigans including boss boogying at the Disco Shed in Oxford, and the World’s Biggest Bouncy Castle in Southampton, plus both shows will have the old-time pleasures of Vintage Funfair Rides, surprising Pop-Up Performances, brass-powered Horns of Plenty in Oxford, and Saints Brass in Southamptonwith the savoury delights of Scrumptious Street Food, decadent drinkies from Cocktail Bars, a fantastic Kids Area withthe gymnastic pageantry of Circus,Face Painting, Crazy Inflatables, and much more!
A Great British downpour lashed over festival goers as ponchos and true grit became standard for the first day of Sundown Festival.
“It's raining so hard my fingers are wrinkly,” bewailed one glitter-sodden music fan who said it looked like she had sat in the bath for an hour.
Yes. The rain was bad.
But remarkably the ground stayed mostly mud-free and the musical maelstrom kept the crowd in good spirits as three stages blasted out a mix of urban, pop and dance.
Kicking off proceedings on the main stage were Cambridge rapper Big Heath and Norfolk neo soul artist Mullally who stepped in at the last minute to replace Emmi.
Skipping on to the stage afterwards was a total style switch with trio MO who DJ Mistajam has described as the only girl group you need worry about.
They were followed by the earthy, jazz infused voice of Espa, then Kiko Bunn, who brought a good times, deep dance reggae sunshine vibe to the day.
Next up the ever youthful Ms Dynamite, whose energy shone as strongly as when she first topped the charts in 2003 ,with her hit single signature tune which heard the crowd sing in unison – Miss Dynamite-ee-ee!
Becky Hill stood out for her effortless performance show-casing her mind blowingly powerful voice, especially during Wilkinson's anthem Afterglow.
She is a truly likable artist with a great energy and simplicity of style.
Kano showed why his fifth album Made In The Manor has become a high seller with an edgy performance that ripped up the crowd followed by the unmistakable grin and good times set of tunes from original UK rapper Dizzee Rascal.
Jess Glynne stormed the stage with a set that engrossed the sodden masses encompassing her five number one UK singles and showing why she is a rising star on the other side of the pond as well as in the UK where she is preparing for a 10 date arena tour in the Autumn.
Duo Chase and Status closed the night with a show stopper of lights and kicking drum n bass as part of their summer of festival headlining while also producing their much anticipated third album.
By Sunday ,the Norfolk Showground venue, filled with 40,000 fans, had transformed thanks to some of the last of this summer's rays rolling through the clouds.
BB Diamond broke the musical ice on main stage with an easy set of dance tunes followed by an absolute whirlwind of energy that is Imani Williams.
This 16 year old is going places with her passion, unmistakable voice and style.
Signed to Sigala's label it is clear to see why he has snapped her up with her timed to perfection dance moves and big voice.
Next up was rapper Yungen who is among a new wave of rap/grime acts sweeping the British music scene.
He was followed by girl trio Stooshe whose high energy was a big hit with fans.
Anne Marie brought her big vocals to the stage where she compellingly lost herself in the moment and was enthralling to watch.
DJ Sigala followed with a big impact live set embracing a Caribbean theme with a guest slot by Imani followed by Krept & Konan who powered in, packing a mighty grime punch with lyrics that screamed pure London boy genius.
A turn around style switch followed, thanks to X factor contestant Fleur East who was a massive hit with the crowd. Think Beyonce and Tina Turner, blend them up and you get some kind of idea of her style, and panache. She was a joy to photograph with a star quality performance.
Next up was Years and Years – watching singer Olly Alexander is like seeing somebody emotionally throw their entire life and a handful of glitter into every word. Riveting.
Closing the festival was American star Jason Derulo who left the crowd in no doubt about why he is such a hugely successful global act.
This man can sing, he can dance and with a big beaming smile his performance was incredible to watch – not least when he picked out a girl from the screaming crowd and brought her up to dance on stage
A great performer with slick backing dancers and musicians to boot.
Over in the red and blue tents weekend highlights were David Rodiggan, who smashes it every time he takes to the stage, Jaguar Skills and his Asian babe dancers, Dimension, Red Light, Goldie and Wilkinson with thanks to stage hosting by Ministry of Sound, Defected In The House, UKF and the drum n bass arena.
Laurence Bagnall, one of the festival organsiers said: “This has been one of the biggest Sundowns yet.
“The weather failed to dampen the good vibes, the sun came out for some of the biggest acts and with no incidents to report the festival would like to thank everybody for their ongoing support.”
Sigma, Blonde, Anne-Marie and Imani join the Saturday line up and DJ Fresh, Becky Hill, The Tide and Club Drive join Day Two on the Sunday. They join Jason Derulo who headlines Day One, along with Tinie Tempah, Labrinth, Craig David, Sigala, Fleur East and Krept & Konan.Olly Murs will bring the two day event to a close alongside Busted, The Vamps, Nathan Sykes, Lawson, Ella Henderson and Jamie Lawson.
Also for the first time ever at Fusion Festival, Kopparberg is set to bring a taste of scandi-cool with the arrival of the popular Kopparberg Urban Forest! Two of Liverpool’s most popular breaking artists, Louis Berry and Mic Lowry will be taking to the stage, underneath the magical canopy of the forest. Kopparberg will be supporting the very best in creative and imaginative live music, by hosting a series of pioneering artists and DJs on its iconic Urban Forest stage.
The stage will be placed in a scenic clearing, surrounded by the intriguing beauty of the Swedish pine forest and the charm of Kopparberg town. Carved into the Kopparberg Urban Forest will be two woodland bars serving up all kinds of refreshment from the independent Kopparberg brewery in Sweden. Alongside its selection of delicious fruit ciders, Kopparberg will also be serving the brand new Kopparberg Fruit Lager.
Taking from all corners of pop, urban and dance music, Sundown Festival returns in 2016 with its biggest lineup yet. With huge names already announced including headliners Chase & Status and Jason Derulo, pop superstars Jess Glynne and Fleur East and grime godfathers Dizzee Rascal and Kano, even more names are joining the party!
Since toppling Bieber off of the top spot in the Official UK Top 40 Singles Chart with his smash hit ‘Easy Love’, Norwich’s own Sigala has become one of the country’s most in demand DJs and producers. His current single, the Nile Rogers and John Newman collaboration ‘Give Me Your Love’, is a summery slice of tropical house and his set on the main stage is not to be missed. Also joining the main stage lineup are purveyor of sun-soaked, infectious reggae Kiko Bun, BRIT nominees Stooshe and chart-topping pop starlet Becky Hill.
With Sundown teaming up with Defected, Ministry Of Sound, UKF and Drum & Bass Arena this year to bring two dance-dedicated tents to the festival full of some of the biggest names in house, dnb, garage and more, those looking to party the weekend away need look no further. Joining the Defected In The House stage is Italian house master Crookers and over in the Drum & Bass Arena, Ram Records’ Culture Shock joins the already stacked lineup.
Expanding in 2016 to three stages for the first time, Sundown Festival is the essential closing party of the summer festival season for revelers looking for one last dance in the sun.
Now in its fourth year, Sundown festival has played host to many of the biggest names in music, and this year was no exception. Returning as headliners for the second time, Chase & Status closed the Saturday night, while Ellie Goulding closed the festival on Sunday.
But all the fun actually begun on Friday night. After waiting nearly 2 hours in the queue for my friends to get their wristbands, we eventually made it to the campsite, with aching bodies from carrying everything for so long.
We weren’t going to let that stop us though, as the Big Top opening party proved to be one of the highlights of Sundown. New to 2014, the action kicked off at 5pm, but after a few drinking games, we joined the growing crowd of energetic teenage ravers a few hours later. Commercial house tracks and big room EDM bass drops were the soundtrack to the party, consisting of ‘Backstreet’s Back’ being mixed into Martin Garrix ‘Tremor’ – certainly not something you hear every day, a dubious Nirvana remix and some old classics in ‘You’ve Got The Love’. It all made for a great night, with an impressive laser light show shining up the packed tent.
We also checked out some of the stools selling funky sunglasses, hipster shirts, bum-bags galore and the festivals best-seller, judging from all the lads wearing them, – black printed bandanna’s.
The morning after, the campsite looked like a bomb had hit it – especially the far from sanitary toilets located at the bottom of the campsite. But that’s all to be expected, in fairness there was the option to pay an extra £25 to get some brilliantly titled and much cleaner VIPee toilets for the weekend if you wished.
Entering Sundown’s main site just in time to see Disclosure and Tinie Tempah collaborator Sasha Keable perform on the main stage, it was a nice ease back into the party spirit to cure our near-hangovers. Sasha Keable’s sound is mainly synth led electronica with an impressive vocal laid over the top of each track. Performing tracks from her debut ‘Lemongrass and Limeleaves’ E.P, ‘Living Without You’ showcases her powerful vocal range and ‘Sweetest Talk’ takes influence from Jessie Ware’s soulful R&B sound. ‘Careless Over You’ creates the first sing-a-long moment with Sasha’s voice climbing over the rolling drum and synth beats. It’s the collaborations with Zinc and Disclosure which get the biggest cheers and sing-alongs. ‘Only For Tonight’ pumps up the party atmosphere with air-horn sounds just in time for set closer ‘Voices’, with the crowd jumping and singing back every word. Already signed to Tinie Tempah’s Disturbing London label, a few more releases and Sasha Keable will soon be a household name.
Also on Tinie’s label are All About She, who perform next. The London based UK garage three-piece are made up of record producers James Tadgell and Jon Clare and singer Vanya Taylor. It’s Vanya who grabs everyone’s attention though, with a similar stylish appearance and voice to Estelle, she wastes no time in showing off her vocals. ‘I Can’t Wait’ is a highlight, while new feel good track ‘Beyond Heaven’ hears Vanya work the crowd singing “Sundown you take me there” before asking “where are all the lovers at, put your hands in the air.” ‘Like That’ sees Vanya dedicate the track to a birthday girl on the front row before the trio end their set with the song everyone’s been waiting for. ‘Higher (Free)’ still sounds as fresh as when it was released last November and reached the top 20 in the UK. Sung a capella for the first chorus, it’s given an emotive re-work before the garage beats kick in which return ‘Higher’ to its original club-ready state.
Before Foxes takes to the stage, there is an unwilling yet entertaining twerk off to Nicki Minaj’s new single ‘Anaconda’ between Kiss FM DJ’s Michael and Tania, who introduce each act and deserve praise for building the hype effortlessly. Foxes bounces onstage, looking ever the pop star, in a dress and massive sunglasses. Aside from the music, Louisa is loved by, females who want to be her, and males who want to be with her. The whole set is a highlight. Performing the main singles from her debut album ‘Glorious’, including ‘Youth’, ‘Let Go For Tonight’ and ‘Holding On To Heaven’, each song receives mass sing-a-longs with fans arms waving in the air. She’s not bothered by the worsening weather either, which she has experienced the worst of after a storm engulfed her set at Nottingham’s Splendour festival in July. Instead she shouts to the crowd, “fuck the rain”, and they oblige, continuing to jump with her. ‘Clarity’, her massive Grammy award winning collaboration with Zedd goes down a treat and proves one of the weekend’s biggest sing-a-longs.
Meanwhile, over at the Big Top tent, house music lovers are being treated to the best in the business, with the whole day hosted by Defected Records! Earlier in the day Copyright and Cristoph have bass heavy sets before Food music label boss Shadow Child. But it was Second City and Mark Kinchen who provided the best sets of the day. Second City aka 27-year-old producer Rowan Harrington took the crowd on a journey of commercial to more underground house hits including a remix of Breach’s ‘Jack’ (who would play the same stage later), his collaboration with Route 94 ‘Freak’ and his own track ‘I Enter’, but sadly his brilliant new collaboration with Ali Love ‘What Can I Do’ doesn’t get played. Ending with his recent number one piano-house smash ‘I Wanna Feel’, everyone’s hands wave while their lungs are given a full workout much to Harrington’s happiness.
Later, Marc Kinchen, whose set is swapped with Sam Devine’s, draws a massive crowd to the tent. Opening with a dub of ‘My Head Is a Jungle’ before recent single ‘Always’, MK is joined by four less than covered dancers waving fans in front of their face, creating the Ibiza atmosphere, when in reality we’re inside a sweaty tent.
Chase and Status, who headlined Sundown festival back in 2011 returned to close proceedings on Saturday night. And what a show it was. An intense laser light show, a number of unexpected special guests and some insanely heavy drum & bass, dubstep and everything in between made it the show-stealer of the weekend. Performing tracks from all three of their albums and some older material, it was a career spanning set with each track sending the crowd absolutely crazy. I’ve actually never seen more mosh pits throughout a set. And it just gets even more out of control when Tempa T pounces onstage to rap his part in ‘Hypest Hype.’ Later, British singer Jacob Banks is welcomed onstage to provide his soulful sing-a-long vocals to ‘Alive’. Moko appears large as life in the background video appearing to jump out of the screen during ‘Count On Me’, similarly with Plan B seeming to smash the screen during ‘End Credits’ and ‘Pieces’. Set closer ‘Smash TV’ from the duo’s 2008 debut album ‘More Than Alot’ made for the perfect end to their genre defying set!
Sunday hosted a far more pop orientated line up on the main stage while well respected drum & bass label Ram Records took over the Big Top. On the main stage, three-piece M.O, who are receiving regular plays on Radio One from the likes of Mistajam, are bringing the 90’s girl band back! They’ve toured with Little Mix and recently signed with Universal in the US – and it’s not hard to understand why. Arriving just in time to catch the last two songs of their set, the first is an impressive cover of Beyonce’s ‘Drunk in Love’, made completely their own. The second is new single ‘Dance On My Own’ with a garage beat which samples Sweet Female Attitudes ‘Flowers’ – one of the biggest UK garage hits from the 90’s.
Ex-The Voice contestant, Becky Hill, bounces onstage in a white crop top and sparkling Aztec skirt, making the most of the British sunshine. She described her sound recently as “leftfield, alternative, cool pop” and that seems fitting. Two Inch Punch-produced opener ‘Caution to the Wind’ is the perfect solo introduction to the world for Becky who I have been a fan of ever since she appeared on The Voice. Since then, she has achieved two number one singles in the form of drum & bass Wilkinson collaboration ‘Afterglow’ and recent house hit with Oliver Heldens ‘Gecko (Overdrive)’ – both of which receive mass sing-a-longs during her set. You can’t help but love how down to earth she is, there are no airs and graces as she admits “my onstage chat is rubbish” after she cracks a joke about the sun being up for Sundown. She later tells the crowd “I’ve got a bottle of vodka in my room so I’m going to the RAM tent to rave it up” – she comes across as a typical partying teenager. Becky’s rise to the top has been stratospheric but she’s still the same loveable singer, as she tells the crowd, “I was recently working in LA and I got a call from my manager and he said, ‘Becky you’re number one”. She proves that she’s a real pop-star in the making during her next disco infused single, the MNEK-produced ‘Losing’ which she says is out in a few weeks. It’s safe to say that she gave the best live vocal performance of the weekend and I’ve already bought tickets to see her again!
Looking like Annie Mac and sounding similar to Katy B, Jess Glynne is the next rising female vocalist to perform. With two backing singers, a drummer, guitarist and keyboardist, Jess performs a set full of catchy pop hits in waiting. She asks the crowd, “did you enjoy my fellow husky, Becky?” much to the crowd’s applause. Jess gets straight into her recent number one with Route 94 in ‘My Love’ before it’s mixed into her second worldwide number one with Clean Bandit ‘Rather Be’, with both attracting mass sing-a-longs and smiling faces. “This is the last festival for us, so let’s go out with a bang”, exclaims Jess. Gorgon City-produced Set closer ‘Right Here’ which reached the top-ten saw the crowd swaying their arms and dancing along to the house beat.
John Newman appears like a young Elvis with slicked back hair and perfected dance routines from the start of his penultimate set of the weekend. Backed by a seven piece band made up including three female singers. The longtime Rudimental collaborator performs the majority of his debut number one album ‘Tribute’, taking the ever-growing crowd on a journey of soulful pop. Each track comes complete with John showcasing his beyond impressive footwork throughout set opener ‘All For You’, ‘Try’, and ‘Cheating’. It’s obvious that he’s a real showman with plenty of onstage confidence, treating the gig like a real show, saying “welcome to this evening’s entertainment”. During ‘Losing Sleep’ he throws himself and the mic around the stage before he pauses the song to shame a member of the crowd. “This guy’s trying to start a fight during my set. We’re not here to start a fight, we’re here to enjoy the music. Let’s put our middle finger up to him” – and everybody does. Back to proceedings and John gushes about his girlfriend, asking, “Did anyone see Ella Eyre earlier? That’s my other half” – of course everybody cheers. Later, John thanks the crowd for getting him where he is now, “We’ve done 38 festivals this season. It all started for me with Rudimental and it’s taught us that we’re ‘Not Givin In’”. The Rudimental collaboration sees John and the backing vocalists sing their heart out with John running along the front row of the audience to the lucky fans delight. Set closer, and number one single, ‘Love Me Again’, sees him fall to his knees at the end. John’s energy and showmanship far exceeded my expectations and I’d definitely recommend anyone to go and see him.
Ending the weekend was Ellie Goulding, who barraged through tracks from both albums ‘Lights’ and ‘Halycon’. Songs like ‘Figure 8’ and recent single ‘Goodness Gracious’ showcase Ellie’s unique breathy vocals. ‘Starry Eyed’ is dedicated to all of Ellie’s fans who have been with her from the beginning. Madeon-produced track ‘Stay Awake’ pushes Ellie’s vocal range to its highest and most impressive point. After a quick costume change, Ellie performs a chilled electronic cover of Alt J’s ‘Tesselate’ before switching to James Blake’s ‘Life Round Here’ – two breathtaking, somewhat haunting renditions. Picking up the guitar for an acoustic version of ‘Guns and Horses’, Ellie shows off her unmistakable vocal capabilities. Laughing she says, “It’s about the time where I like to do some voluntary movements which some people may call dancing” before pop hit ‘Anything Can Happen’. Teasing the crowd she jumps down to run across the front like John Newman did during ‘I Need Your Love’. Then comes the sad news, “This is my last show for quite a while and I’m not sure when I’m going to be back on tour”, Ellie genuinely seems upset but powers on through ‘Lights’ which sees everyone light up their camera phones, creating a special memory for everyone there. Finishing with ‘Burn’, Ellie signs off hinting at a return for the following year.
Ellie certainly won’t be the only one coming back to Sundown festival if this year’s brilliant event is anything to go by!
MTV kicks off the Liverpool International Music Festival with a line-up of fresh UK vocal talent.
I'll be honest…I didn't quite know what to expect going into this gig. The cynic in me though "Oh, here we go…MTV parades a bunch of marketable girls all billed as 'the next big thing'". The cynic in me was quickly silenced.
As soon as we got under way, one thing was abundantly clear…..these girls can really do it. And they can do it well.
Becky Hill was first up with a strong performance of old and new material. There always seems to be this sort of stigma attached to the whole 'reality TV contestant goes legit' thing, or maybe it's just me, but again, this was dispelled from the get go. Becky proved to both me and a warehouse full of 300+ Liverpudlians that she's the real deal.
Next up was Jess Glynne.. and yes, even I've heard of Jess Glynne. This girl just seems to be everywhere at the minute. Giving off a much less animated presence than Becky, Jess was fine letting her voice do the talking. In her short career, she seems to have already built up enough hits in her back catalogue to keep almost any crowd screaming …and this crowd was no exception. Backed up by a slick band (and I don't say that often) and some pretty energetic backing singers, this whole group put in a stylish performance leaving the crowd hungry for much, much more.
So there's me. Stood in the trendy setting of the Camp and Furnace with my cameras round my neck, pleasantly surprised by what I'd seen so far. Then it was time for the final act..and trust me when I say that this crowd was already pretty bloody happy with what they'd got for their £3 ticket purchase, but when Ella Eyre was announced, they kicked it up a notch…and by 'kick it up a notch'…I mean they went mental. Figuratively, of course.
On to the stage runs this electric lioness, dressed like a sexy x-men character and absolutely rips the crowd to shreds. Whipping around in a blur of hair and Spandex, Ella worked this crowd like she's been doing it since she was born. Honestly, I just shot Kendal Calling and even there I didn't see stage presence this good. Of course, she dropped some crowd-pleaser's like "Deeper" "Love me like you" and "If I go" (which sent the already manic crowd through the roof) – and the ones we didn't know, she taught us the words to. Even through a few technical difficulties (let's face it, sh*t happens sometimes) she managed to keep the crowd right in the palm of her hand.
It's kind of ridiculous to think that this girl is only 20. What's even more ridiculous is to think how good she'll be in another few years. Probably the worlds next International super awesome ultra mega star. Or y'know, words to that effect.
All in all, this was a stellar line-up of absolute vocal powerhouses who definitely brought their A-game for the MTV cameras..and whilst they were busy doing that, they also restored my faith in the future of UK vocal talent. Thanks ladies.
An excellent way to kick off the Liverpool International Music Festival.