Bank Holidays really seem to have a knack for bringing the sunshine and this past Sunday was no different. The dreamy day set us up with the perfect opportunity to kick off festival season and get excited for the summer that's only just beginning. Cross The Tracks, Brixton's top festival for Soul, Jazz, and Funk, was bursting at the seams with beautiful music, delicious food, and happy people. Set on the rolling hills of Brockwell Park, looking over views of London's skyline, the festival was brimming with music lovers of all ages and backgrounds dancing to exciting new sounds from artists like Yazmin Lacey, Wesley Joseph, and Bina to current favourites from Anderson Paak in NxWorries, and major throwbacks like Milkshake and Millionaire from the one and only Kelis. Read on for a breakdown of the most special moments.
IMAGE LEON DOGGY DOGG
Our day began with a soulful jazz set from London's very own Yazmin Lacey. Having arrived on stage in a breezy white dress, gold makeup to match her accessories, and a paper cup that she kept in her hand throughout most of her songs, Yazmin's demeanour and vocals were as equally effortless as her look. With a relaxed, happy and summery vibe radiating from Yazmin and her band of flawless musicians, she took us through a list of songs, one different from the next but all totally authentic to her smoky sound. She finished her performance with some call and response during her song Late Night People which kept a surprisingly packed crowd for such an early set time enthusiastically singing and dancing along. With such a beautiful voice from a clearly beautiful person, Yazmin Lacey is now and forever on our radar.
DRTY HARD SELTZER
IMAGE COURTESY OF DRTY HARD SELTZER
The first drink of the day was an alcoholic sparkling water from DRTY Hard Seltzer. The mango passion flavour paired perfectly with the toasty outside temperature in the middle of the day and the taste of alcohol didn't dominate the drink whatsoever. After some quick research, we discovered that these drinks are stocked across retailers including Waitrose and M&S so you can bet they'll be making an appearance at a future F Word BBQ.
IMAGE COURTESY OF ZEST KITCHEN
It's been a while since we've seen such an impressive array of food at a festival and while it was hard to make that first choice, we went with Zest Kitchen. The fluffy Bao buns caught our eye, fully stuffed with either vegan hoisin 'duck' or lemon, garlic, and ginger 'chicken', and garnished with black bean mayo, pickled pink ginger, sliced cucumber, fresh coriander, spring onion, crispy shallots and sriracha. It's easy to go for 'quick fix' foods at festivals which can be satisfying at first but ultimately aren't sustainable for long days spent walking miles through the heat but Zest's Bao buns checked the boxes of every essential food group and they were just oh, so tasty. Trust us, we went back for seconds.
IMAGE LEON DOGGY DOGG
Celebrating the one year anniversary of her debut album, Ravyn Lenae took us through the sweetest and most sultry set that her clearly dedicated fanbase seemed to know every word to. With a outgoing personality and a hot pink outfit to match her visuals, Ravyn put on a total performance, running back and forth across the stage, never missing a beat, and noting how many beautiful people were there in the crowd. Citing her pride for her Panamanian heritage, Ravyn sang - my personal favourite song from her discography - Where I'm From, a stunning tune based on the idea that our roots may not be connected to our personal birth place but our hearts always are. With the sun shining high in the sky, the sentimentality of Ravyn's set felt especially magical.
IMAGE DAVE BURKE
Hats off to Bina because no other artist brought the uniquely infectious and palpable energy quite like she did. Moving through a set of original songs with some of the most clever lyrics, - can we talk about, "I'm on my way to Hades in the back of a black Mercedes" (!!!!!!!) - and a Frank Ocean cover, Bina kept me wondering if the tent full of people who showed up for her were personal friends, fans or both. Either way, the South London R&B singer, songwriter and producer has an adoring audience and she got us all going. Playing in one of the more modest sized tents, I often thought Bina was too big of a presence for such a small stage. If anyone from Cross The Tracks is going to soar to new heights by next year, it's going to be Bina.
IMAGE RIO BLAKE
At a desirable 6pm set time with the sun still high in the sky, the most effortlessly cool Wesley Joseph spoke between songs about how he had never seen such a big crowd. It was a surprise to hear from an artist who exudes confidence, can sing as well as he can rap, and never misses a beat. Commanding the festival's second largest stage with occasional subtle inflections akin to James Blake and Kid Cudi, every single song of Wesley's went over well, particularly fan-favourite Patience. Every person, either stood at the front barrier with an up close and personal view or further back toward the sound booth, was an active participant in Wesley's show. His closing words at the end of his set, and our mantra going forward? "Keep being beautiful, keep vibrating, keep being alive."
IMAGE RIO BLAKE
In a break between songs, Jazz quintet Ezra Collective spoke about how the news always seems to be telling us there isn't any joy left in the world but the scenes at Cross The Tracks were proving that there's "still tons of joy." Their gratitude radiated from their instruments and resonated with the first official massive crowd of the day - a crowd of true music lovers. Upbeat in tempo and mood, the band cast an exceptionally fun vibe over the fans which remained consistent throughout their set. If you're a Jazz lover and you haven't had the opportunity to see this band yet, make sure to add them to your list - it's a guaranteed good time.
TASTE OF ETHIOPIA
IMAGE COURTESY OF TASTE OF ETHIOPIA
It was dinner time and we were in need of fuel for a couple more acts. Scoping out the length of each queue, hoping for quick service, we opted for Taste of Ethiopia. Placing the order and assuming the vendor provided the most underrated and under-hyped meal of the festival, the queue behind us grew and stretched into a crowd of fans watching a nearby show, proving our own point that Ethiopian food is always the best idea. With a combo box full of lentils and veg and some truly mouth-watering lemony ingera to mop it all up, Taste of Ethiopia proved to be a vendor that we'll continue to support no matter where they set up. See them at a festival? A market? Make sure you run to their tent before you're stuck at the back of the queue.
IMAGE SUMMER COPELAND
This one is going to take some time to process. Kelis - the Kelis - whose milkshake brought all the boys to the yard back in 2003 did the exact same thing this past Sunday. Blessing us with nostalgic banger after banger, the hottest pop star of our generation (yes, I said it!) got straight to it with hits like Millionaire and Trick Me. Performing at a coveted time of 9pm, Kelis seemed to sense that fans might duck out of her show early to run to NxWorries but our queen made the genius move of playing straight from Milkshake into Calvin Harris and her very own Bounce, keeping the people in place and so highly entertained. Currently primarily working as a Cordon Bleu-trained chef, it was the most exciting surprise to witness Kelis creating the kind of festival atmosphere that we only thought we could dream of experiencing firsthand.
IMAGE DAVE BURKE
A sea of people took up every nook and cranny in Brockwell Park for NxWorries. Modern day icon Anderson Paak took the night off from his massive solo act and duo project Silk Sonic with Bruno Mars to perform with his other right hand man, Knxwledge. As Knxwledge hyped up the crowd from a DJ booth situated toward the back of the stage, Anderson Paak flowed through smooth dance moves and vocals in a fluffy black had and shades in the way that only he can turn corny to camp and cool. The highlight of the night? Catching a glimpse of a small army of girls campaigning to get on stage. I'm happy to report they successfully made it. A job well done from all involved.