Written by Becca Hemens

With the sun beaming down and the cowboy boots out in full effect, London music fans flowed into Brockwell Park to commence a sweaty bank holiday Sunday full of sun, soul, and serenity. Being the self-proclaimed ‘ultimate destination for everything jazz, funk, soul and hip-hop’, the bar was set high, and it certainly met these expectations. With a sold out crowd and a proud display of its multi-cultural roots, Cross the Tracks ensured that festival season was officially kicked off.

Starting off the day with a tour of this year’s set up, it was not only the 9 stages that drew the crowds in, but its host of independent traders and food stools that would satisfy any craving. First up? A Vietnamese banh mi that contained the finest tofu to date. Now it was time for Haste to take itself to the Caboose tent and pay a visit to Faye Meana, London’s own blossoming neo-soul/hip-hop artist. While showing her natural talent with her hits ‘Giving It In’ and ‘Patience’ to her growing audience, it was her cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Rock With You’ that really stirred crowds as they swayed to her silk-like vocals. The Caboose proved itself to be the destination for budding talent as Sofia Grant took to the stage like a fairy from the wilderness, with a voice to die for and a band in a unified state of musical bliss. Performing her most popular tunes ‘Ochre’ and ‘River’, she enchanted the crowds with her contagious joy and was swiftly added to all our summer playlists.

Now it was time for the Mainline stage, and Cross the Tracks spoiled this year’s festival goers with headliner and hip-hop royalty Eve, who was back to restore her 90s icon status. And that she did. With leather-clad backup dancers and an MC to further hype up the crowds, Eve launched into an R&B montage that reminded the audience of her domination of the hip-hop world. From ‘Let Me Blow Your Mind’ to ‘Who’s That Girl’, fans shimmied their metaphorical tambourines and were spoiled with 45 minutes of diva attitude and nostalgia. Its safe to say she blew everyone’s minds that Sunday afternoon. After a quick dance break at the Red Bull pop-up stage while the long-impending rain passed through, we headed back to the Mainline stage for BADBADNOTGOOD’s highly anticipated set that brought in all the summer feels (literally). As raincoats were shed and the two-stepping re-commenced, the band proved exactly why they became such a viral sensation all those years ago. With ‘Time Moves Slow’ ushering in all the tiktok users from across the festival, their more recent release ‘Sleeper’ showed they were not just a trend, but a cohort of talent.

Before the final headliners, there was still time for Haste to check out the Locomotion stage, where Mansur Brown was gearing up for a full-capacity show. Blending intricate melodies into a jam-session aesthetic, the audience all nodded along in mutual agreement of the collective genius of his set. But now, it was time for the evening’s headliners. With the absence of Erykah Badu, En Vogue stepped up to close the show, and what a saving grace they were. Wearing 6-inch stilettos and decked out head to toe in silver sequins, the trio didn’t waste a second in showing us the iconic legacy they held. They commenced into a medley of soul classics from ‘Proud Mary’ to ‘Tell Me Something Good’, integrating their classic hits ‘Whatta Man’, ‘Free Your Mind’, ‘Hold On’, and the list goes on… From the front to the back, crowds grooved and bopped to their infectious energy and sass, and it became simply impossible to tear ourselves away for a headstart on the Brixton underground queues. With confetti cannons closing out the evening, there was an undeniable high in the air, as summer had truly begun in the best way possible.