Monday, April 17, 2017 was a wild evening. After speaking on a panel at the Thematic Option conference, I sprinted to the corner of Hoover and Jefferson to board my getaway vehicle to the Fonda Theater in Hollywood. Lord knows finding an outfit to suit both an academic conference and a Skepta concert was no easy feat, but somehow I managed. The interior of the Fonda is something to behold, the murals on the walls are big, beautiful, and witchy. In the dim lights I could only make out the washed out faces of women that looked like if Bottecelli painted goth nuns. Totally awesome. Even though the show was sold out, the venue didn’t feel cramped. The crowd was friendly, and impeccably dressed, and it was easy for latecomers to get decent spots.
I knew that this show was going to be a good one as soon as the first DJ set started. It was two girls spinning, and one wore a halter top with the word “pain” bejeweled on it, an obvious reference to my wildly popular show Man Pain (Mondays 4:10-5:00 pm) To be honest, however, the two DJ sets went on far too long, especially since they played a lot of his songs. I got there at around 9:15pm and Skepta didn’t appear until after 10:30pm. After the DJ spun his last track, there was a 30 second silence, and people began getting antsy, some calling for the headliner, others pleading with the DJ to keep the music going. Then the screen in back of the stage lit up, and Skepta’s name danced all over it in criss-crossing red font. The crowd exploded, everyone bouncing in unison as the first song began.
Skepta emerged in all black: black windbreaker, shades, and pants. In the midst of all of the bumping and hopping the front of my linen jumpsuit came unzipped, though it hardly mattered, "Lyrics" was playing after all.
Despite Skepta being known for grime (a genre that incorporates electronic, hip hop, ragga, and other elements that originated in England), his concert was surprisingly wholesome. His dancing was totally endearing, and the images that played on his screen were not overtly graphic or sexual. Instead, we saw dogs and cool tattoos projected for all to see. At one point he had to stop a song because he had to tie his shoe, which was amazing! Stars, they’re just like us. Not to mention, it was the birthday of one of his hype men, so a cake with candles was brought out. After dunking his fingers in the icing and gleefully licking it off, he returned to his set.
The final song he played was new, and he was visibly excited to perform it for us. It was incredible, and granted, I was standing near one of the speakers, but the bass was so intense in it that it made the whole air feel fuzzy, and the ground shake like the cavalry was approaching. If only he had an encore! Then the night would have truly been perfect.
(P.S. My project for this summer is to make an animation about the lack of female representation in the U.S. government with "Too Many Man" as the soundtrack. Contact me to make this dream a reality.)
VIRGINIA BULLINGTON, DJ
MAN PAIN!, MONDAYS 4:10-5:00 P.M
PHOTOS BY @andrewgomezphoto.