EKKO Festival Review PART 2

Huge praise is due to EKKO for delivering such an incredible line-up for the second Friday of their festival. Being able to create a coherent overall experience through a concise selection of artists – each guaranteed to deliver very different experiences – demonstrates the knowledge and thoughtfulness that goes into this festival’s curation. Achieving this quality-over-quantity balance is what events like this should be all about.

Drippin opened procedures to a room consisting of one or two of the EKKO team, a bunch of famous musicians, and myself. The venue started to fill after about 10 minutes, and Drippin’s heavy-hitting production showcase even sparked a legitimate B-boy dance-off (these random things seem to just happen in Norwegian clubs with no sense of irony). Blending elements of hip-hop, footwork and grime, the Bergen-native’s forthcoming release on J-Cush’s Lit City Trax proves that he is fast becoming Norway’s very respectable answer to forward-thinking bass-heavy club music.

During Drippin’s set one of the EKKO organisers provided me with a warning of sorts ahead of Evian Christ’s audio-visual show. Through some retrospectively wonderful misinterpretation, Evian Christ’s light technician had constructed the light show to fit a stage the size of the whole room; and the ensuing improvisation that compressed the show into Østre’s small space produced incredible results.evian christ [Image courtesy of Oddbjørn Steffensen Photography]

EKKO sweetly summed it up on their Facebook page yesterday: “The oversized show is completely impossible to depict in words. Occasionally miscommunication leads to epic results”. I was dreading writing this review with the knowledge that nothing can do it justice. I’d seen Evian Christ perform once before at his Waterfall EP launch party in London back in March, but the live audio-visual show is something completely next level. The visual interpretation of his music felt so accurate that it will be hard to ever disassociate the two – it felt like a new physical environment was being constructed as ‘MYD’, ‘Fuck It None Of Ya’ll Don’t Rap’ and ‘Salt Carousel’ punched their way through the room.

“The music is timeless, we’re worldwide / I’m pushing the limit the world’s mine”

Prince Rapid’s hook on ‘World’s Mine’ is incredibly relevant to some of the thoughts and ideas that could be taken away from Future Brown’s set at EKKO. Firstly, hearing grime classics like Rebound X’s ‘Rhythm ‘n’ Gash’ and Ruff Sqwad’s ‘Xtra’ and ‘Functions on the Low’ instrumentals – in a club, in Norway – is an experience which is very hard to be mentally prepared for. It’s basically made me reconsider everything I’ve ever thought about grime ever. The reach of a scene can be easy to underestimate when it somewhat local to you, birthed from a recognisable environment and carrying with it a lot of very relatable emotions. Grime is worldwide, and not only in the sense that it can be played in a small coastal Norwegian city to 250 people who are contently perplexed by its unique, aggressive energy – what is more poignant is the fact that producers from all around the world are looking to grime as inspiration. Future Brown embodied this and what’s more, brought Ruff Sqwad’s Prince Rapid with them as their frontman and as a direct bridge to grime’s beginnings. But it’s also a two-way dynamic; grime’s longevity rests on the shoulders of artists like Prince Rapid – who by being part of the Future Brown project represents the scene’s continuous ability to evolve.

Their performance was raw, but not because it had to be. Without a sense of imitation it seemed purposefully raw in order to recreate an energy that is a natural result of the DYI-nature of grime and its environment. This is a dynamic that I’d never previously considered, that something so situational can be drawn upon for inspiration is fascinating. It’s not something exclusive to grime by any means but J-Cush using a headphone cup as a makeshift mic so he could be Prince Rapid’s hypeman for 5 minutes was a fun illustration of this.

The polarity of Evian Christ and Future Brown’s performances required some mental readjustments in the transition; but oddly the feeling of coherence for the whole night wouldn’t have been achieved without this, so props again to EKKO for having the vision to put them on the same bill.

Seb Bowcott

photo 1: 2dopeboyz.com
photo 2: Oddbjørn Steffensen Photography

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