Gemma Turner reviews the Soundcrash Funk & Soul Weekender, held at Camber Sands’ Pontins.
When I heard that Soundcrash were holding their annual Funk and Soul Weekender at Pontins, (yes Pontins, home to the blue coats) I was a little sceptical. I haven’t been to a holiday park since the days I still believed that large talking crocodiles were a real thing (childhood dreams crushed). But when I saw the line up, and the prospect of three nights in a bed – rather than on a yoga mat in a tent – I was sold.
With the smooth transfer of a shuttle bus from Rye train station, and with a driver whose opening line was “All aboard the banter bus!”, I could tell this was going to be an interesting weekend. On arrival, I felt surprised by the diversity of the crowd. From the original Soul girls and boys, to hipsters straight off the Eurostar from Berlin, the festival was a magnet to all. The friendly atmosphere was noticeable. As I made my way to chalet I was presented with my first encounter with ‘Dat Brass’ who were parading around the courtyard, pumping out some crowd pleasing tunes and getting everyone hyped.
My Friday night kicked off with the energetic jazz / trip – hop extraordinaire The Herbaliser. With more than 20 years in the business and equipped with a tight rhythm section, jazz flute solos and scratch DJ and at least two encores, Friday night at Soundcrash had arrived. Later that night in the ‘Funk Factory’ Mr Scruff took the main stage with his renowned marathon set.
Saturday I hit the beach, which was less than a three-minute walk away. For those that are oblivious, Rye’s beach is sand (you heard me). The noticeable friendly atmosphere continued with groups adjoining for one massive ‘beachathon’. On the complex there were pool parties and even a northern soul dance class. As I returned to my base I came across a chalet party, where the DJ was Norman Jay. The highlight for me on Saturday night was Jordan Rakei. Jrakz has been making waves over the past couple of years. The New Zealand born, nu-soul singer has been hanging out with the likes of Tom Misch and Richard Spaven, and took to the keys – filling the room with a collection of his tracks from his album Cloak, his previous EPs, even unveiling a new track (for those that are unaware of the extent of Jrakz talents, take to Soundcloud to find his alter egos Dan Kye, Frank Liin and Kwalia). In the last year, as he added the talented percussionist Ernesto Marichales to the rhythm section, the communication between the whole band has become immaculately in-sync. By the end of the set, the whole room was completely absorbed by Jrakz’s smooth, distinctive vocals and the energy was intense. Though Rakei is a tough act to follow, Mouse Outfit stepped up and won over the audience immediately. With lyrical genius, and even stopping the music for a moment to encourage the audience to take part in the general election stating, “I am not going to tell you who to vote, but I need you know that voting is your humble right to democracy”. Overall, Mouse Outfit were awesome.
Dat Brass popped up again on Sunday, walking around the camp, creating a following that the Pied Piper would be envious of, they finished with a block party on the green opposite the pub with a huge dance off and hyped crowd. Mama’s Gun kicked off Sunday. Andy Platt’s vocals drew the crowd in from outside. Having supported the likes of Raphael Saaqid and Level 42, their mix of 80’s funk and the impressive skills of ‘Dave 80’s Oliver’ banging on the keys, it was fair to say the band were crowd pleasers.
Ok, so the stage was set, the room was filled with battery powered fairy light outfits and so many illuminous colour’s, a rainbow farm would be jealous. George Clinton and the P- Funk’s mothership had arrived. Just like you would imagine an alien invasion, the sheer frenzy of bass licks, percussionist solos, a seven-piece vocal harmony and Mr Nose D’void of funk making an appearance the atmosphere was strong, and then there was Clinton. Like an orchestra conductor, he led his musicians into a funkadelic master piece – motivating the crowd to lose themselves in the music. Greg Thomas took a lengthy solo in which his lung capacity-defying even astounds Clinton back on to his feet. Maggot Brain tops that with his ten-minute solo; the whole venue was entranced. With tracks like Flash Light, Atomic Bomb and newer material being thrown into the mix, Pontins for one night became the sanctuary for all things funk. The crowd, reluctant to say goodnight to Clinton and the P-Funk family, partied on and were enriched with more music legends. Sugar Hill Gang revisited their classics, and even paid tribute to the Furious Five by covering The Message. My only suggestion would be that no one can follow George Clinton and the P-Funk, this made it hard for Master Gee and co to capture the audience that were still elevated from funk down they had just witnessed.
Over all, Soundcrash delivered a diverse, entertaining and enjoyable experience, with parties at the end of each block and the added bonus of being able to shower, this festival was a great way to start the season.