Kicking off with Duke, Ms. Dynamite and loads more

It’s a bitterly cold October weekend and most of Britain’s festival goers have long since dissipated, exchanging summer crop tops, floral headwear and welly boots for thermals, Aran jumpers and faux fur lined slippers.

However, for skiers and snowboarders, this season couldn’t be more appropriate for such a festival as London’s Freeze. People have certainly come more prepared (ski goggles and all) than any punter attending solely for the musical stylings of prestigious names such as Grandmaster Flash and Public Enemy.

The site is laid out in the shadow of the iconic Battersea Power Station, and plays host to a scarily huge Big Air Jump, down which the athletes have been throwing themselves all week, in preparation for the forthcoming competitions. As if this isn’t enough to please the crowds there are five music stages this weekend.

As it’s a Friday afternoon, the work crowd is yet to turn up but the biggest congregation is certainly around the Desperados Factory. This faces the Big Air Jump and comprises of a bar, a skateboarding ramp and a raised dancefloor on which people are already starting to bop their heads in time to the music. As Clash pitches up Rebel Bingo is about to commence. This resembles your standard bingo game except the bingo calls are somewhat more tongue-in-cheek and are jazzed up with dramatically made-up model dancers. The host’s cabaret colloquialisms and larger than life persona keeps the audience captivated throughout the show and the audience participation causes some hilarious moments.

Next to grace the Desperados Factory is Duke, a beatbox ensemble showcasing their unique live combination. This is well received by the crowd, many of whom are soon are pumping their hands in the air and singing along to improvs of tunes by The Prodigy, Punjabi MC’s and a host of convincingly delivered club classics. Following this we have Madam X and Star One, both acts demonstrating their credentials as underground bass music heavyweights with Madam X especially holding her own. Not to be outdone, Deekline arrives on the stage and proceeds to throw down tune after tune of ‘Booty Bass’, which keeps the energy up. Indeed, it’s so cold that if anything is warming up the festival, the heat’s definitely coming from the Desperados Factory.

Moving into the evening, the site has certainly seen a few more entrants and it’s becoming difficult to move around so freely inside the Factory. Whilst Clash takes 5 minutes to grab a well deserved bit of grub, Major Look take to the stage to lay down some ground shaking dubstep and D’n’B anthems. Beat stalwarts The Nextmen, whose craft behind the decks easily maintains the vibrant energy of what is now a heaving dancefloor follows this up before the headliner for the evening takes the stage.

Despite a fair amount of young talent on show so far, Desperados’ headliner tonight is a more than familiar face: Ms. Dynamite. She rolls out everything from the classic ‘Put Him Out’ her signature ‘Dy-Na-Mi-Tee’ to jungle speed versions of her songs as well as executing a few mashups for good measure. Her performance goes down a treat and showcases the UK rapper’s allegiance to her old school roots within an intimate atmosphere that takes us nicely into day 2...


Words by Abitha Pallett

Photos by Tom McNeilage, Alex Thomas


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