slowthai's Brixton Academy Show Is A Raw Exhibition Of Power

slowthai's Brixton Academy Show Is A Raw Exhibition Of Power

It's the perfect union of artist and fans...

slowthai has come a long way. Indeed, his achievements have been so heady, and the heights soared so cataclysmic, that at times it’s easy to forget that this is still a young working class kid from Northampton, relatively new to the game.

But slowthai doesn’t forget. At one point in this packed out, long since sold out Brixton Academy show he addresses the throng directly, speaking intimately into the microphone, thanking each and every person there – and there’s a lot of people in this venue – for their support.

- - -

- - -

And it truly is support. Packed by the time Clash arrives for riotous support act Hak Baker, each song seems to detonate wildly, this non-stop mosh pit of youth and fury and shakes the South London venue to its very core.

The stage set up is simple but extremely effective. There’s no severed Boris heads, no sloganeering here – the lights perfectly flank slowthai, with a DJ to the rear, two people with Super Soaker water pistols firing into the crowd, and a bloke careering from left to right in a bunny rabbit hat. It’s hilarious, surreal, and uncompromisingly unique.

- - -

- - -

Opener ‘Nothing Great About Britain’ leads into a punk-leaning ‘Drug Dealer’, with the speakers belching caustic noise on to the crowd. ‘Fast’ and ‘Toaster’ are this rapid-fire one-two, with slowthai remaining the figure of resolute focus.

There’s a huge mirrored surface along the back of the stage, something he says it to enable the crowd to “see how sexy I am from behind!” Not really, he jests: “There is something great about Britain, and it’s you lot...”

- - -

- - -

‘Gorgeous’ finds the rapper at his preening best, while ‘IDGAF’ is precocious and untamed, the crowd erupting to every bar. Maintaining that sly grin throughout, slowthai lets the music drop before saying: “Mandem! Remember to make your girl cum, or else she’ll go and fight someone!”

‘Ladies’ is a carnal treat, the topless MC constantly teasing the front row before the opening notes of ‘Inglorious’ spark another wave of utter carnage. Skepta races onstage to a colossal cheer, but the night truly belongs to slowthai – from the sheer cheek of ‘TN Biscuits’ to the starkly autobiographical poignancy of ‘Northampton’s Child’.

It’s not flawless – sound issues permeate the speakers – but it’s undeniably thrilling, the sight of an absolute one-off tearing down the barriers around him. Above all, there’s this sense of union between crowd and artist, this perfect bond between slowthai and his peers, suffering through the same economic wasteland, the same shit jobs, crap schools, and random violence.

- - -

- - -

Ending with ‘Doorman’ the rapper orders the DJ to reload the tune, sparking utter bedlam in the pit. Slowthai is quick to react, though, reminding the crowd to make sure that anyone who falls down gets back up quickly, before hurling himself into the pit.

Bold, brash, and undeniable, slowthai’s Brixton stand radiates with energy and positivity. At the centre of it all is this swaggering MC, a grin permanently plastered to his face, his ambitions sky-rocketing. “Brixton I fucking love you!” he tells the crowd, “I’ll see you next time at Alexandra Palace!”

- - -

- - -

And that’s it. No encores, the message made, and the crowd spent. Clash exits to find kids outside holding phones aloft – items lost in the pit, gathered and returned to their owners. People are chilling, meeting friends they lost to the chaos within a song or two.

Perhaps slowthai is right: there really is something great about Britain, and it's right there in the mosh pit.

- - -

- - -

Photography: Tyrell Willock

Join us on the ad-free creative social network Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks, exclusive content and access to Clash Live events and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.

 

Follow Clash

Buy Clash Magazine