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Sunday, 27 March 2011

Red Bull Studios First Birthday - review

The labels, ‘press guest list’ or ‘guest list’ adorned the walls outside red bull studios, as inside drink was generously flowing. “Spirit with red bull, sugar-free red bull, cola red bull” decorated the bar menu “ there a fucking way out of leaving this room without shaking from a caffeine high?” muttered someone behind me in the queue. I certainly wasn’t complaining. Who could with a line-up of Skream, Benga, Benji B, Kano, Foreign Office, Drop the Lime and DJ Mooken?
Before Hackney four-piece Foreign Office were graced the stage, I explored the legendary Red Bull studios. Body guards stood, left, right and centre, guarding what went on behind closed doors. Another room was fitted with luxurious sofas and people printing t-shirts in the corner courtesy of Hit + Run. Yes, they were of course free. As breathless falsettos emerged from a bed of crunchy electro beats, it was my cue to get back to the stage and check these guys out.
I presumed them to be another one of those dub step acts, so was pleasantly surprised to be met with guitars, good hair and skinny jeans – and, of course, staggeringly good music. Waves of post-punk vibes and rhythmic beats evolved from George Hume (guitar), James Woodley (drums) and Duncan Hillman (keys). Paul Cousins (vocals), dressed in solid vintage frames, intensely stared at the back of the room as he sung his heart out, his lyrics edgy, ironically bright yet dark at the same time.

As always with the beginning of the night, people kept as far as they possibly could from the stage, leaving the band in an awkward position if they got ‘too into it’. Yet, this didn’t stop them creating a modern 80’s vibe on stage, and it was clear that every person rigidly stood with their hands clamped around their blackberries, were secretly rocking it out inside. They just needed more vodka down them.

As the evening progressed, so did the stacks of empty glasses, and the crowd of people on the dance floor. It was time for Kano. Personally, I’m not a great fan, but after seeing him bring his distinct urban freshness to the stage and the reaction received from this select crowd, I couldn’t stop talking about him afterwards. People were miming the lyrics to his songs, as he charismatically paraded the stage, never standing still for a moment. In the middle of the song he came to the front of the stage where this girl stood, pumping out some chest-attracting, Beyonce-like moves, “I like the ways you’re dancing right there you know. Don’t stop it. Don’t stop it,” Kano muttered, exchanging a couple of his savvy dance moves in return.

His whole set were songs he recorded in the studio, and things he’d not yet played – so it was a genuine exclusive performance. Cameras were flashing, and the room was slowly heating up to the point where it’d be appropriate for Kano to do a cover, singing: ‘Its getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes’. Instead he slammed it out with another banger from a song he’d collaborated with Chase and Status. After that things start getting a bit hazy, and all I remember are people’s arms in the air and drinks on the floor.

After re-energising myself with those deliciously potent ‘studio mixes’, I bumped into Benga on the stairs, who directed me to follow him into the green room – the backstage area....what happens there stays there. Well, that is, if anything actually happened. It was pretty much a room full of alcohol, food and sweets. People patted Ollie (Skream) and Beni (Benga) on the back as they ventured out into the basement where a crowd of people waited in anticipation for those dub sirens to scream. The set began with the lyrics ‘What you talking about’ surfacing beats dirtier than pig’s diarrhoea as the crowd melted into a moving sea of skanks. The atmosphere in this basement was hotter and livelier than anything I had seen all night.

No-one was simply standing there, and there were certainly no blackberries in sight. This crowd of pretentious music industry talent were finally drunk on enough vodka to let go and get involved. A girl spread herself across the DJ decks, people were slamming the ceiling, and some dodgy looking individuals emerged from the bathroom…ahem. Despite all this mayhem, Skream stayed completely focused on the set, not even taking a moment to drink, which is a talent in itself, where Benga was a bit more flexible to be sociable. They ended their set with a dirty bang, everyone with sweat dripping off their foreheads and yearning for more filth. But that was the end of it.

Buying yourself a litre of vodka, a crate of red bull, some disco lights and trippy sunglasses with a mix of Dubstep, Grime, and Old School Jungle on full blast, would go some way to re-creating tonight but it’ll be a small taste of what went down.

(published on

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