Festivals are back baby and South Facing provided the dream line-up for one of the first un-socially distanced day festivals. Based in The Crystal Palace Bowl, the festival felt more intimate than many of the other London day festivals I’ve attended but still was spacious enough for those still anxious at the prospect of the return of live music events. Gates opened at 3 pm on Saturday 7th August and ticket holders slowly started to pile in.
The first act of the day was Katy J Pearson, her dreamy folk-pop riffs warming up the crowd for the line-up ahead of them. Despite playing so early on in the day, Pearson was still able to draw an impressive crowd to show off a 70s-fuelled, high energy set. Jane Weaver followed suit with a playful pop-y set, accompanied by a light drizzle of rain and sharing a heartfelt moment with the crowd when wishing her son, stood in the audience, a happy birthday.
The Orielles’s set, and the emerging sunshine, lifted the spirits Crystal Palace, with ‘Bobbi’s Second World’ and ‘Space Samba (Disco Volador Theme)’ proving to be particular crowd favourites. Their summer-soaked set was followed by the usual spectacle from Fat White Family. If any of the bands were going to enter the pond surrounding the stage at the Crystal Palace Bowl, it was going to be a member of Fat White Family, hence the audience showed no surprise when Saoudi was knee-deep in it. Gig goers seem to worship the presence of Fat White Family, and the South Facing set proving that a global pandemic hadn’t changed this.
Baxter Dury brought the most impressive set of the night, aided by his impeccable vocalists and band, wrapping the South London audience around his little finger. Calm and collected, his set oozed style, with Dury not seeming to notice the 5,000 people singing his lyrics back at him. The last year has provided the perfect backdrop for listening to the ever politically charged songs of Sleaford Mods, this translating into their headline performance at the end of the night. The audience got what they waited in a pocket of Crystal Palace for, a relevant and impressive set from the band, featuring songs from ‘Spare Ribs‘, their acclaimed 6th album.
The first Saturday from the South Facing festival program proved that even 50 years after Pink Floyd played the Crystal Palace Bowl, the venue is still playing host to groundbreaking musical acts.