I know I have advertised myself on this blog exclusively as a football writer, perhaps to my detriment, but I have interests that go beyond the beautiful game. So I’m going to try something different….and talk about music, another great love of mine.
So I went to a concert in Brixton on Friday to see Kaytranada, Vic Mensa, Sango and Benji B, a stellar line up for fans of the young talent emerging out of the electronic and hip-hop scenes. Being a fan of the first three (not gonna lie, I didn’t know Benji B was a real DJ) I was expectant of an amazing night. As I lined up in the queue I could sense the excitement surrounding the doors of the famous o2 academy as more and more young, beautiful and trendy people filled the arena.
I’m someone who goes to concerts fairly regularly, tending to stay in the back to avoid the ruckus of getting pulled around like a reckless game of tug of war in the front. But Friday night was different and the very front of the arena, in direct view of the acts, was too enticing to turn down. Probably because it wasn’t as packed as it would later become. Plus it was quite easy to manoeuvre into the front among the increasingly drunk and hyped teens and 20-something-year-olds.
Right from the get go I got exactly what I wanted – a very dope night. Sango, part of the amazing Soulection collective of futuristic beatmakers, kicked things off, thrilling the crowd with remixes of artists as diverse as Drake and Omarion, as well as his own assortment of anthems. Sporting a Manchester City shirt (I managed to get a football reference in) Sango’s enthusiasm – he literally did not stop jumping for the whole hour of his set – rubbed off on the fans as dance circles were being made and alcohol splashed everywhere. Then out of the blue, came the new golden boy of grime, Stormzy, to perform his bona fide banger “Where Do You Know Me From” and shut it down for all of us bewildered but gassed watchers. In the space of three minutes he brought the madness and then disappeared and you knew the night would be something special.
Benji B was up next and while I didn’t know what to expect, he didn’t disappoint, peppering his set with bangers like Skepta’s “That’s Not Me”, Drake’s “Know Yourself” and Kanye West’s “All Day”, building on the excitement Sango generated. As the crowd headbanged the night away, then came along Chicago rapper Vic Mensa for a highly energetic performance. Despite the increasingly obnoxious pushing and shoving in the front (I lost count of the number of times I had to elbow guys), Mensa’s amped-up renditions of “Orange Soda” “Drive Me Crazy” (produced by the headline act of the night, Kaytranada) and “Down on My Luck”, in between near jumps into the crowd and relentless fan mobbing, were particular highlights.
After three amazing sets, Kaytranada gave the show a worthy end, spinning his way through his eclectic collection of remixes of Azealia Banks’ “ATM Jam”, Missy Elliot’s “I’m Really Hot” and as well as the aforementioned “Drive Me Crazy”. While not as energetic as Vic Mensa or Sango, the DJ from Canada had a presence that was just as commanding. His hour set felt shorter and at the end he jumped off the stage and proceeded to take selfies with those lucky enough to get his attention. Including me.
A truly incredible night then, that will live long in the memory. And despite my earlier reservations, maybe I’ll start going to the front more often.