1. The merchants of crap.
I’m getting this one out of the way first, because it is the first thing most people bring up as a reason for not liking Sunfest. Fair dues.
There are far too many crap vendors. Spongebob towels, inflatable Spider-Men, belt buckles, and even the dreaded Wolf blankets… There is so much of this crap in the park, many people seem to not realize it is a music festival. They make the few interesting vendors too ahrd to be worth looking for, and worse, these tents are the prime cause of #2.
2. The Zombie Trudge.
I love this festival, but holy crap does it get crowded on the pathways. Add in food purchases, looking at wolf blankets, and arguing about what to eat, and it’s like being in a mall, but with more sweat.
OK, now that the down sides have been called out, let’s count our blessings:
3. Sunfest is free, homegrown and independant.
What more could you ask of a festival? Despite some dalliances with the dark side (Jazz music) Sunfest has remained incredibly true to its mission of bringing talented musicians to London from all around the world to celebrate their music and share a bit of their culture along the way.
4. Dancing babies.
I know you can see them at any outdoor concert, but I like ‘em best at Sunfest. They just seem more wholesome attached to a hippie dad than a soccer mom. Babies are usually the first ones up and dancing at afternoon shows. The usual order of how a dance crowd goes is:
a) Babies (and parents)
b) Hippie Librarian single women
c) Youngish-trying-to-be-free-sprit women
d) Shirtless guy trying to impress dancing women
The shirtless guy either means the crowd has hit critical mass and will snowball, or he oogs people out and the other dancers retreat. Interestingly, as if to prove his cool, shirtless guy is often the last one dancing.
5. Amazing Home-made Food
Nothing showcases London’s cultural diversity better than the community groups who cook at Sunfest. From my all-time favourite, the Nicaraguan Nacatamale to the Afghani spiced potatoes, there is a ton of great authentic food to gorge on. We typically eat there all weekend. I pity the fools eating pizza this weekend. Live a little!
6. My Sunfest hat.
A few years ago I found an old straw hat of my dad’s. It’s bright pink and we always mocked him for wearing it. Now, even though it’s practically disintegrating I love it. I don’t only wear it at Sunfest, but I always wear it at Sunfest.
7. Familiar Faces
I love running into people I haven’t seen in years. It always happens at Sunfest. I equally love recognizing Sunfest regulars on stage and in the crowds.
7. The music!!!
Year after year, Sunfest has not just introduced me to amazing artists and performances, it has broadened my taste and appreciation to include a ton of great musical styles and elements.
You have to do your homework – with so many bands and styles, a lot of it probably won’t appeal to you. But if you take the time to check the playlists, you are bound to find someone amazing to watch. (I must credit Jen who does most of the “triage” on the artists for us every year).
I could do a whole post on great artists and albums I discovered because of Sunfest. Instead, I’ll showcase a few artists I think will be the show-stoppers this year:
Five Alarm Funk (tons of fun – have seen them twice already)
Systema Solar (if these guys are 10% as fun as the video,it should be a great show)
Jayme Stone (amazing banjo player who fuses bluegrass with African and other elements)