South Facing Festival: Jungle bring their signature neo-funk to Saturday night
Crystal Palace Park has a kind of faded, expansive grandeur that was enhanced by the scorched grass the current climate has created. South Facing Festival has been set up where the ground dips in a natural amphitheatre, the stage over a pond whose goose inhabitants seemed, if not massive fans of the music, then pretty ok with it, as they stuck around. Maybe they were just too bamboozled by the eclectic funkiness of the Avalanches to up wings and take to the sky. Anyway, it was a nice little setup, one stage with good views all around, surrounded by bars and with food stalls on one side. There was one selling delicious-looking plump pizzas, a hot dog stand that included a vegan option and a stall for vegan junk food which sold deep-fried seitan burgers with the option to add a vegan mac ‘n’ cheese made with nuts as an extra topping. Had a too-tight skirt not been opted for, they would have all been eaten with no remorse – but linen is an unforgiving fabric.
The Avalanches played feel-good tracks, leaning towards the funky house piano-led riffs, but the odd fat bass line crept in. Their selections suited the mood well and the end of the set saw a guy get on stage to propose it to his long-term girlfriend, which was nice. Luckily, she said yes.
Welsh electronic producer Kelly Lee Owens came on stage politely declaring she would take the crowd on a journey, “Is that ok?”. Her cerebral yet heavy techno/dream pop mix and hypnotic visuals went down well with the crowd. She came on stage like a boxer, with a black hooded robe which revealed a high 00s orange mesh dress. She created distorted, enigmatic vocals, running her voice through oceans of reverb and a sound that built inexorably to a fist-pumping climax.
Headliners Jungle brought their signature, danceable neo-funk to the stage. Founders Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland were joined by a live band to add depth to their unerring grooves. Their glittering falsettos wove together over tracks from their three albums to date, including their Mercury Prize-nominated 2014 debut. They jumped into the set with Keep Moving and All of the Time, accompanied by word-perfect renditions from the crowd. Their tunes are so catchy and polished they make it seem easy and you forget how many they have up their sleeves. The keening vocal of Julia is a highlight, as is the slinky groove of Cherry. Their latest single Good Times comes towards the end of the main set and shows that they have stuck with their winning formula: good vibes for dancey people. A four-song encore sees them end with their ubiquitous hit Busy Earnin’. They are a great live band who always deliver.
Photos: Nick Bennett
South Facing Festival 2022 is on 29th July to 7th August 2022. For further information and future events visit South Facing Festival’s website here.