On Friday, I left the SGS office early and headed off to attend X the Tracks Full Steam as part of South Facing Festival at Crystal Palace Park. While I was saddened by the last-minute change to a Masego and Mereba-less line-up, my temporary disappointment was soothed by the announcement of Kojey Radical and Ghetts and complimentary access to another South Facing event of my choice.
My friend was delayed so we arrived a little later than planned but thankfully missed the rain (a blessing in disguise). We were greeted by the beautiful tones of Poppy Ajudha and her all-female band playing the dark clouds away. I first discovered her work around 5 years ago and she remains relatable but insightful, performing ‘Holiday From Reality’ as well as a cover and some of her newer tracks.
Next up was Nubiyan Twist, whom I had only heard of in passing and in a few playlists. They woke up the audience with a cross genre sonic melange of Jazz, Reggae and Afro styles. My personal highlight was the section featuring K.O.G. with his impressive twerking and audience hyping abilities.
After their set, I queued for a vegan hotdog (which I’d rate a solid 8.5/10), whilst listening to Pip Millett on the stage below. By this time, the crowd had grown significantly, readying themselves for the new homegrown headliners – it was the first time I’ve seen a non-socially distanced (officially organised) crowd of that size in months.
Once I’d satiated my physical hunger, I was hungry for some new vibes.
Ghetts’ entire set was designed around his latest album Conflict of Interest, which reached number two on the UK album charts, with occasional dance breaks and a skank worthy throwback – in the middle of ‘No Mercy’ (which features Pa Salieu and BackRoad Gee on the original recording) he broke into a verse from ‘You Dun Know Already’ (I was gassed!)
At around 10pm, it was finally time for Kojey Radical! I first saw him at an intimate gig at Village Underground years ago and was curious to see how his performance would translate on the festival stage. He performed a number of songs including tracks from ‘Cashmere Tears’, older tunes such as ‘1997’ and ‘Water’ (featuring Mahalia), all paired with equally impressive moves and amazing backing vocals. His electric set ended with ‘Can’t Go Back’, one of my favourites from his last project. Its self-affirming lyrics, like Kendrick Lamar’s ‘i’, uplift you as soon as you start singing along.
Overall, it was a great evening and introduction back into the festival experience; well worth the trip south of the river. I look forward to attending the WWFM 5th Birthday as part of the festival this weekend!