Last night, the Red Bull Culture Clash descended on London.
At a new home of Wembley Arena, the event saw four stages – manned by veteran reggae soundsystem and current title holders Channel One [above], Major Lazer (Diplo, Jillionare and Walshy Fire), grime brand / label / collective Boy Better Know and a showcase by Annie Mac, featuring Magnetic Man, Redlight, Disclosure and Rudimental – compete over four rounds, with a champion ultimately decided by the loudness of the crowd’s reaction to each act. Here’s how it went down, with a set of accompanying pictures that were Instagrammed or Twitpic’d during the event.
Round One – No Elimination
In short, a chance for each team to get the crowd on their side without fear of defeat – the clash doesn’t officially start until Round Two. Channel One bubbled, Annie Mac’s team took it in turns to each play short pre-planned / pre-recorded sets featuring 2012’s biggest dance tunes (some – Disclosure, Redlight – pulled this off with panache; Rudimental’s Piers Agget was a little more awkward), Boy Better Know hyped over low-quality mp3s and Major Lazer played ‘Gangnam Style’ while Diplo crowd-surfed in a Wayne Coyne-esque bubble. Everyone remained firmly in first gear, with Annie Mac Presents probably the standout.
Round Two – The Selector
15 minutes of music: no special guests and no custom dubplates, as rules stated that both must be held back until round four. This was broken twice, once by Annie Mac’s team when Sam Smith came on to perform ‘Latch’ with Disclosure, and then a second time when Major Lazer brought out Stylo G for a ferociously-received rendition of ‘Call Me a Yardie’. In truth, the former set was fairly pedestrian; Major Lazer, who won the round, were comfortably ahead of the others in terms of timing and precision – the selection was a little too obvious at times (dropping House of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’ immediately after claiming you’re not here to play overplayed tunes was a low point), but overall it was impressive.
Boy Better Know had already come out complaining that Major Lazer had broken the rules by bringing out the custom dubs in round one, and like an angered lion with about fifteen heads and one astonishingly ripped body (who was that guy – anyone?), Skepta and co turned up the heat over low-end classics like ‘Duppy’, Breakage’s ‘Hard’ instrumental and ‘R U Really From the Ends’, though the biggest reactions came from Wiley – both when he dropped his classic “getting ‘em hyper” bars and, in a pleasant surprise, when he closed the set on recent hits ‘Heatwave’ and ‘I’m Skanking’.
Channel One meanwhile, gave Major Lazer a bit of a talking to, dissed “Sgt. Pokeyhead” and “Skream and Bhangra” (we think that’s what they said, anyway), referred to Annie Mac as looking like a lost sheep, and then bubbled. Brilliantly, in a stadium full of laptops, light shows and CDJs, Channel One DJ Jah T had two turntables in front of him all night, and only ever needed to use one of them. Respect.
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