MOWBRAY Park became a mosh pit of electric energy and big booming beats as headliner Dizzee Rascal took to the Split Festival stage.
Though the chart-topping rapper may have been an opinion-dividing booking for a festival more known for its indie/ folk sets, there’s no denying Dizzee knows how to put on a show.
With green lasers lighting up the park sky, he brought the razzle dazzle you expect from a household name to this boutique home-grown festival.
Clad in Sunderland’s signature colours of red and white - probably a mere coincidence - he whipped the crowd into a sea of jumping bodies and out-stretched arms.
“I love to see energy and people bouncing about with each other.” he bellowed to the crowd in his London lilt. “I’ve been doing this for ten years and this is my first time in Sunderland.”
His set spanned the prolific songwriter’s decade in the business with more grime-led tracks from Mercury Prize-winning album Boy in da Corner, such as Fix Up Look Sharp and Jus’ a Rascal, through to his more commercial tracks including Bonkers and Dance Wiv Me.
He capped off a sun-drenched first day of the weekend festival which also saw a more pared-down acoustic set from Simon & Oscar, of Ocean Colour Scene fame.
An appreciative calm came over the crowd as the pair performed a simple, yet effective, set. No fireworks here, the songs spoke for themselves and the acoustic nature of their performance allowed the lyrics of tracks including the anthemic The Day We Caught The Train to shine.
Another huge crowd-pleaser were local lads Hyde & Beast.
It was standing room only as they headlined stage 3 with tracks from their new album Keep Moving, which was recorded just down the road at The Bunker.
It’s this combination of locally-grown talent and chart-toppers which makes Split stand out from its festival counterparts and it was a mix which fused seamlessly this weekend.
•For more highlights and photos from Split Festival, see tomorrow’s Echo.