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Outlook Orchestra: A Celebration of Sound System Culture [Review]

When Outlook Festival announced they were hosting an orchestral celebration of sound system culture at the Royal Festival Hall, naturally a few heads turned. It raised a number of questions, such as how well a live orchestra would manage to execute a showcase of what is essentially bass-heavy dance music. It also begged the question as to how a display of dance floor music would go down in a seated venue.

When Pharoahe Monch marched on stage and launched straight into Simon Says, it quickly became apparent that we weren’t expected to remain seated for long. Within a few tunes, the whole of the Royal Festival Hall seemed to be up on their feet and skanking away.

Jenna G‘s sublime rendition of MJ Cole‘s garage classic Sincere was an early treat, allowing the Outlook Orchestra to demonstrate their incredible ability. Such a definitive track seemed to be the perfect choice to receive the orchestral treatment and proved to be a memorable moment.

The Newham Generals soon took the stage and the orchestra continued to flex their muscles, doing an honourable service to Hard with a booming performance from their brass section. Later on, the audience was reminded of the breathtaking versatility of the Outlook Orchestra when Jenna G returned to treat the audience to a perfect performance of drum and bass dance floor classic ‘In Love’.

Congo Natty with the Outlook Orchestra
Congo Natty at the Royal Festival Hall

Appearances from Foreign Beggars, Congo Natty and Dawn Penn (to name a few) beautifully summed up the diversity of artists found every year at the infamous Istrian fort. The Outlook Orchestra somehow managed to surpass even the highest expectations, perfectly capturing the broad spectrum of musical styles found at the iconic festival. An unquestionably rock solid way to enter Outlook Festival’s 10th year, this summer looks set to be very exciting indeed.

Words: Aziz Kallala

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