Sundown Festival 2016: Great for Grime, but not much else

Dominic Clarke headed to the Norfolk Showground to check out Norwich’s annual Sundown Festival. 

Sundown festival had what could be considered the line-up of dreams for fans of pop and urban music, with a mix of new-on-the-scene artists such as Becky Hill and the Mercury Prize nominated Kano, alongside long-standing successes such as Dizzee Rascal and Chase and Status. This, however, unfortunately cannot change the weather, although this did mean that crowds flocked into the UKF tent, who largely benefited from the rain as completely unknown artists had crowds of thousands. Rain obviously cannot be avoided, and the main stage acts all thanked the crowd profusely for the support in such bad conditions.

Becky Hill put on a good performance, although a lack of set list and inconsistent timing to a backing track did not seem particularly professional. Despite this, the crowd seemed to be in good spirits, simply laughing at these minor slip-ups and continuing to sing along for the rest of the set.

Dizzee Rascal put on a fantastic set, playing a mass of hits to an active crowd, showing precisely what Kano could become with a few more hits and with a continuation of UK grime scene growth. Dizzee’s ability to get a crowd going showed precisely why he should have been billed above Jess Glynne, who played a distinctly pop-fuelled Radio One friendly set with no major extravagance or memorability. Chase and Status made up for this however, playing a fantastic set including new tracks along with the set’s highlight, 2011 mega hit ‘Blind Faith’, with show guests MC Rage, Tempa T, Tom Grennan and Liam Bailey.

The stand-out act of the UKF tent was undoubtedly grime act Elf Kid, who couldn’t be recommended more as his high-octane set brought to life the tent, converting casual listeners into big fans.

The biggest issue with the UKF venue is that, catering to such a niche market, the average listener could not discern one act from another, with much of it sounding like a continuous bass-filled club night. This is perhaps something many wouldn’t want to spend over £40 per day on. You truly need to be hugely into a set type of music to benefit from Sundown.

Although the final few acts brought a great atmosphere to the festival, it cannot be ignored that paying to see them individually would be not only more economical, but would involve longer sets. It seemed to me that you need to be a hardcore fan of a large proportion of the lineup to truly get your money’s worth.


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