Monday, July 10, 2006

(Contraband) Positive London Post

Posts in praise of any aspect of London, let alone P3 arts festivals, are out of keeping with the style on this blog, but Sunfest is just too great to let pass without comment; let the curse of the London Fog fall upon my head as it may.

The Sunfest annual four day world music festival has been held in London for the past 13 years, thanks to the work of artistic director Alfredo Caxaj and others. The first full weekend in July is always a free admission utopia of crazy music from dozens of bands day and night on three stages in Victoria Park.

From the eastern yet western Tandava's guitar/marimba/tabla/chinese violin cover of "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" at the jazz stage to the insanely fun jumping around music of Montreal's Kaba Horo at the bandshell, to the beeping and clanging trance Afrikrautrock of the Congolese Konono No. 1 at the Via Rail Stage.

The Via Rail Stage was well named. Everyone had apparently been asked to remain seated until the show came to a complete stop. I count myself among the guilty.

A cross-cultural learning moment occurred there at the afternoon Konono No 1 show. The band seemed a bit out of sorts already, perhaps not used to playing to strange people who can sit still during their music. As the trance went on, a slightly ruffianesque man sitting in the front row made eye contact with the frontman, throwing him a well-intentioned high-arm pumping clenched devil-horn salute in solidarity with the sound. Visibly puzzled by this gesture and the man's persistence in jabbing it at him, the musician did a double take and then looked away without smiling. I'm not too well travelled but I bet devil horns is not a nice gesture in many cultures. The ruffian and his friend burst out laughing upon realizing this, probably compounding any insult. Meanwhile, back on stage, the thumb pianist in blue was getting fed up with the monitors... It sounded great though. I missed their night show so I hope they come back. They would be really powerful with a partying crowd to feed off.

Also fun was the hilariously sneaky refusal of Amazones from Guinea to get off the stage and leave a very appreciative audience. They were outroduced three or four times but repeatedly snuck back on by starting up with the marimba again as the applause was dying, and then eventually marching out on masse, smashing around, being outroduced... to the increasing consternation of the emcee...

Great festival.

Creative Cities Citizen's Patrol Note: Monday Free Press relegated London's unique Sunfest, attended by as many as 200,000 people, to page C3. Front page coverage went to Gay Cup and World Pride celebrations interchangeable with others you may have rolled your eyes at in countless other cities.


Ayn Steyn said...

Can't believe the frontman doesn't know better. Never diss the devil horns, dude!

Pietr said...

Feeling good about something unexpected in ones own neighbourhood is a normal side benefit of being objective.
Some things really are quite good.

Honey Pot said...

Sunfest is the bestest. It is funny though to watch Londoners attend it. Something wrong with the people born in London. It is like they want to tap their foot along with the music, but are afraid someone might see them. They sort of look around to see if anyone is watching before they will lift their toes. You can tell the people who are from out of town, they are the one's jumping up to dance, clapping their hands in glee and smiling. This town needs imports, of the type that are lively, and have an apptitude to have fun and enjoy life. Even our gay parade is on the conservative side of things. We need gays that are gay, and outrageously flamboyant, not snarly and sedate.

MapMaster said...

Flamboyance as a civic virtue, eh? Cheaper than the JLC, I guess...