Skepta delivers a grimy performance at the Vogue Theatre

Skepta at the Vogue Theatre 18/04/17

Photo courtesy of Vancity Buzz
Photo courtesy of Vancity Buzz

People walking down Granville street last Tuesday night were probably a bit confused when they witnessed a horde of teenagers in workout attire emerging from the Vogue Theatre. The young crowd had just watched a sold-out performance by Skepta (Joseph Junior Adenuga), a popular grime artist. Originating in the 2000’s from UK garage, grime is a relatively new genre of music that is centered around combating elitist ideals. Indeed, the show itself felt like a revolution. Grime music and the culture surrounding it entails being “real” to yourself and non-conforming to society’s standards of fashion. As such, the  theatre was teeming with teens and young adults donned in tracksuits, sneakers, and ballcaps. While the night started off slow, by the time Skepta was on the entire venue was packed. In keeping with grime fashion, he was wearing a plain white t-shirt, red sweatpants, a black cap, and sunglasses. The British artist started the night out with “Konnichiwa” from his album with the same title, which was ranked 2nd place in the UK music charts in 2016. With its elaborate lighting system, the Vogue was an ideal venue to intensify the guttural bass beats’ effects. The 34-year-old Nigerian then addressed the crowd in a raspy tone: “Yo…energy crew in the building right here! I was out in the desert in Coachella and I lost my voice…so I need everyone to bring that energy out!”

The electronic intro to “That’s Not Me” resonated through the speakers as the crowd hollered and chanted along: “I used to wear Gucci, put it all in the bin cause that’s not me”. The next song “Ace Hood Flow” from his mixtape Blacklisted had die-hard fans screaming. As people on the dancefloor erupted into moshpits, alternating red and orange spotlights on Skepta matched the song’s defiant theme. Every song ended with the cacophonic noise of glass breaking, once again indicating the unruly nature of grime music. “Crime Riddim” intensified the mosh pits, with some people getting knocked over onto the seating areas.
Skepta seemed impressed, addressing the mob again: “That’s my grime crew right there!”. After “Numbers” got the crowd rapping along to the chorus, he proceeded to play his personal favorite, “Skepta Interlude”. Its slower beats allowed the party-goers to replenish their energy supplies for the next song. “Detox” tackled the permanently-addicted state of the world to drugs and social media: “Went to the hills tryna kick back, still I wanna tweet and chat, woke up this morning, said I quit smoking, now I just bought me a pack, ’cause everyday man turn up to the max, don’t know how to relax.”

Skepta then thanked his fans, and explained his humble beginnings. “Next time you see a celebrity, I want you to sing this to them…”. “No Security” echoed his statement, mocking the elite lifestyle. When “Shut Down” began, the energy in the room increased tenfold, with fists punching the humid air and the floor trembling from the vibrations of hundreds of feet pounding against it. One highlight was when he grabbed someone’s umbrella from the crowd and rapped with it on top of his head, further expressing his nonconformity. During his final message to his young listeners, he encouraged them to ignore all the “fake shit”, and that “as soon as you wake up and tell yourself you’re going to become successful, you become successful”. Ending the show with his best track off Konnichiwa, “Man”, he asked everyone to get home safe and turn up the energy one last time. The Ruts DJ’s played a final pump-up tune as he disappeared off-stage, leaving his sweaty fans to hurl themselves at each other until the lights came on.