Tru Thoughts has come a long way since its days under founding member Robert Luis stairs back in Brighton ’99. The past ten years have seen them sign some of the very best funk and jazz acts, and create a name for themselves as pioneers of originality and soul. Today the guys are taking over Vibe Bar for festivities lasting a massive twelve hours, with a great line-up of past and present Tru Thoughts artists here to lift the party.
For a spot on Brick Lane – the heart of London’s trendy east-end, the crowd is surprisingly devoid of pretension. No one seems stuck up, self-important, or appears to be wearing a tiny little stupid hat. The atmosphere is inviting, friendly and laid-back, with people sitting around in a sunny courtyard drinking beer, laughing, mingling, moving around tables, and generally being inclusive, chilled-out jazz types.
People swarm around a great Caribbean BBQ cooking all sorts of marinated meat that fills the air with sweet scents, while a range of beers and unusual cocktails helps keep everyone merry. Amid the crowds are also several stalls selling merchandise, records, CDs and posters. DJs and collectors dig eagerly through the troves of records on offer trying to find a bargain, discussing music and talking to the artists and people from Tru Thoughts.
After an afternoon spent lounging around enjoying the last of the summer sun and listening to a host of great DJ sets from the likes of Nostalgia 77, The Bamboos and Flevans, the live music part of the festival finally kicks off with a great acoustic set from Lizzie Parks who delivers soulful jazz vocals to funk guitar accompaniment.
The highlights of the evening however are sets from Alice Russell and Belleruche, both amazing live performers who wow the happy crowd. Russell in particular is outstanding, exuding soul and power, her voice quite literally fills the room. Her performance is both classic and modern, with a style that is bluesy and smooth, but has the force to make you move like good gospel or funk.
North London three-piece Belleruche follow it up with their own brand of trip-hop driven turntable soul music, delivered with depth and feeling. Their music, influenced by everything from vintage blues, through jazz and hip hop, to rock, perhaps best exemplifies the Tru Thoughts sound and ethos and makes for a great closer to the evening.
Today has been a great party which has felt welcoming and inclusive throughout, and has seen most of the punters stay from start to finish. Here’s hoping Tru Thoughts can keep it going for another 10 years.