Dream Venue | Skepta
Kellen Fredrickson // Nov 22, 2018
The late afternoon breeze off the Thames is crisp and pleasant. The excitement of a new city and a familiar artist are a befitting match for a splendid sunset.
A bit uneasy by the alert of an update in the status of the concert we’re attending that evening, I slink through a richly colored doorway and off the street.
The room inside is bristling with activity, and we cool our heels from sightseeing all day by easing into a leather booth in the corner of the room.
Large classes clink down in front of us, full to the brim with cold beer. It’s both refreshing and somehow laughably typical, but it would be a lie to say it didn’t seem fitting.
As I take a deep gulp of liquid bliss, I take a moment to absorb the scenery.
Football club banners and flags adorn every fathomable inch of this place. I nod approvingly, clunking the sizeable mug onto the wooden table.
Upon checking my watch, it seems we likely have enough time for a few beverages. No update on the concert yet. With the original start time of the show looming, I start to worry.
I stash the phone and go back to focusing on the important things, downing this sublime brew and catching last weekend’s Premier League highlights to the soundtrack of animated conversation and muffled jukebox jams.
Banter carries on for some time, long enough to methodically polish off a mug and a few pints.
Right as I’m ready to give up hope on the whole show and email the venue for a refund, I get a notification.
Upon inspection, we’re hit with a choice.
“UPDATE: TONIGHT’S PERFORMANCE - MARCH 23RD- HAS BEEN CANCELLED. DUE TO UNCONTROLLABLE CIRCUMSTANCES, THE BOOKED LOCATION IS NO LONGER HOSTING ITS SCEHDULED EVENT FOT THIS EVENING.
ALL TICKETS WILL BE REFUNDED, HOWEVER IF YOU ARE THE OWNER OF A TICKET AND ARE CAPABLE OF PROVING IT, YOU HAVE THE OPTION OF ATTENDING AN ALTERNATIVELY LOCATED PERFORMANCE AT THE FOLLOWING LOCATION. ATTENDANCE OF THIS EVENT WILL NOT PREVENT YOU FROM RECEIVING A REFUND.”
My eyes dart up to gauge reactions around the group.
It’s clear, none of us are ready to call the night quits.
Free attendance to something impromptu, with none other than Sketpa?
Consider it done.
We map the new location, a thirty-five-minute drive from our current location. Between all of us, the fare is more than manageable.
We make the call, and we pile in.
The excitement in this tiny plastic commuter is electric. None of us know what the fuck is going on.
Emboldened by the pints perhaps, we speed towards our destination, chatting our driver up far too emphatically while playing grime anthems at far too loud a decibel.
We pull up to what I can only make out in the light of dusk to be a gatehouse of some sort. A dark figure approaches the car, and demands proof of credentials. After a thorough check, the figure beckons us out of the car, turns the driver around, and sends him on his way.
It’s made clear that we’re to walk from here.
Through the gate we walk, gawk instantly at the sight in front of us.
A short walk up the circular drive lies a massive, glitzy building with wide staircases and tall columns.
We gallop up the stairs and into a foyer, complete with a coat check and modest merchandise stand.
I snag an exclusive Mains hoodie Skep has created for the tour for more than I am comfortable, but shrug it over my football jersey anyhow.
A bar outfits us with refreshments, and we meander through the hallways and towards the sound of deep bass.
It’s now gotten quite dark, but even in the faintly lit house I can tell it’s nice. Too nice for a show, like this is a residence.
Upon turning the corner into a loud and bustling room, we can make out a stack of rather impressive speakers, a deejay table, and a microphone stand. The lights are low in this room, but there is an unmistakable crackle of excitement in the air.
Out of the front of the crowd materializes a lone figure in a black tracksuit. Even with his back turned to us, I know it’s Skepta from the immaculate SK Nike Airs on the figure’s feet.
He turns around, and with a swipe swings the mic up to his face.
“Excuse me, may I have your attention?”
Everyone shuts the fuck up.
“For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Skepta, the movie director,” he exclaims in an unmistakable accent.
“And we’re here tonight because a lot of fucking twit promoters decided that they’d try to keep us from doing our thing,” he gestures to the room.
“Well I thought to myself ‘Nobody can tell Skepta what to do, never.’”
“For that reason, I just bought this posh house so that we can get knackered and do whatever. The fuck. We want.”
The ensuing roar from everyone in the room is unfathomable. Over the speakers, the high-pitched flutes of Praise The Lord trill, and by the time the bassline hits every person in the large room is bouncing in tandem to the bass.
The stream of Skepta’s unique brand of grime continues on into the evening. At one stage, he crowd surfs to the middle of the room before reaching up and holding onto a grand chandelier.
After dangling briefly, and perhaps in part getting dragged down, the chandelier rips out of the ceiling and crashes to the floor. Nobody is hurt, and rather than stop the show, Skepta poses atop the twisted crystalline remains and the entire crowd surrounds him to aggressively work it out to the final tunes of It Aint Safe.
Downton Abbey meets heavy metal meets rave. A microcosm of important British culture.
Nothing would indicate the onset of morning, but before anyone is the wiser the music has gone on the better part of the night, and tendrils of light begin to crawl above the horizon.
Exhausted, still piss drunk, and recovering from the heaviest case of tinnitus I have ever experienced, we call a taxi to make our way back to the city.
But even clouded from the effects of such a wild evening, we still have time to take in the glamorous crib as it sits against the blazing colors of a London sunrise.
This won’t be one that any of us forget any time soon.