Photo by Sarah Rix (2015)
It’s hard to imagine that mere hours before his sold-out show at the Danforth Music Hall, Skepta arrived from a whirlwind promotional effort in Japan in support of his highly anticipated fourth album, Konnichiwa. Crossing timezones to bring the celebration to Canadian Music Week within the first twenty-four hours of the album’s release is an exhausting journey, but any signs of jetlag were absent as Skepta’s rampage set the city ablaze for an hour long show.
While grime carved a place in its UK home a long time ago, the Toronto uptake has had its moments over the last few years. Perhaps the seemingly sudden embrace of the genre is due in part to the ongoing friendship between Drake and Skepta, who regularly champion one another on social media and have collaborated in the past. Although said bromance failed to materialize at the show on Friday night, Toronto was transported to the London underground for an hour of back-to-back cuts from Skepta’s deep catalogue, sweaty mosh pits, free t-shirts and flying water bottles included.
Skepta brought the kind of show that ought to find its way to Toronto more often; a heavy metal hip-hop fiasco that accelerates energy at Drake speeds of zero to one hundred, real quick. With the support of an enthusiastic audience and members of his collective BBK, Skepta proved that there is such a thing as shredding a microphone, impressively doing so with little intermittence. Naturally, being one of the first cities to hear numbers off of Konnichiwa live was a great bonus that underscored the evening; it also helped that those who managed to get into the show (some were drawn through CMW wristband lottery, others purchased tickets in advance) already appeared to be quite familiar with the new material, which made the impact that much more experiential. That kind of love – especially as Skepta closed with his infamous track “Shutdown”, causing a feverous meltdown – clearly indicated that Toronto could very well be a great nesting ground for grime music in the years to come. Hopefully CMW keeps that in mind when they set out to create more moments at next year’s event.