Monday, 13 June 2016

Friday 10th June 2016

I won’t lie, pulling into Copenhagen train station a little after midnight makes me feel old. Normally this is when Pernilla (my wife) and I would be heading home from a concert, not arriving for one. Then again if ever there was a concert designed to make me feel my age it’s this one. We’re off to see Giggs, my favourite of the current crop of Grime acts. He’s playing at Rust, a venue that before yesterday I’d never even heard of. That’ll be that age thing again, no doubt. In typical Copenhagen fashion he’s not even due on stage until 1 a.m.

Earlier in the evening I watched France beat Romania in the opening match of the Euro 2016 tournament. So I already have a couple of beers inside me and a thirst for some decent entertainment after the lacklustre football. 

Walking swiftly we carefully weave our way past drunken Danes staggering home to start work on their hangovers. It’s a thirty minute walk into a section of town that neither of us know all that well. We find Rust with ease though thanks to the fact that you no longer require a second mortgage when using your phone abroad. 

Rust’s a strange place, a warren of rooms and metal staircases. Dark, semi-industrial with toilets that reek so badly of piss that you don’t need signs to find them. It takes a couple of wrong turns and questions to find the main room. My heart skips a beat when we walk up the stairs and I catch a glimpse of Giggs’ uniform (grey sweat pants/white trainers), beneath the black curtain bisecting the tiny stage.

At first there aren’t many people around and I worry that this might end up being a four men and a dog concert. We grab a beer and settle in to listen to the DJ warm up what little crowd there is. Then the place quickly starts to fill up. Arms are slowly waved up and down, connections are made, beers are drunk. I observe a steady flow of bad tattoos. The bass is loud, hitting your chest before reaching your ears. The beer on the other hand is meat-and-potatoes Danish lager. This is no place for craft-ale, longboard riding, full-sleeve-tattoo beard types. Thank fuck.

The DJ is fucking aces, he’s on for less than thirty minutes but manages to slip at least four Skepta tracks into his brief set. Sensing that things are about to get under way, we move closer to the front of the stage. Then, without any introduction, without any fanfare, Giggs is onstage. All very low-key, all very cool.

He’s a big bloke, scary looking, while we were waiting for him to come on stage I’d thought about how funny it might be to shout out a request for Rolex Sweep (a Skepta track). Seeing him in the flesh though those thoughts shrivel up and go to the place where cowards go to die. People surge down to the front, there’s not many here, 100, 150 tops, but none of them are on their phones or talking, everyone’s eyes are fixed on the huge black man bouncing up and down on stage making his free hand into a gun and urging us to bounce with him. 

His DJ keeps cutting the music out at key moments, allowing the crowd to fill in the blanks, which they do without fail, every time. We’re told by Giggs that we’re a 'sick crowd', we’re asked to 'raise our middle fingers if we’re representing where we’re from'. No one fucks about, everyone does as they’re told. The audience is a strange oil and water mix, the usual club kids, dressed to impress but also to drink and dance mingle with the hardcore; wiggas in backwards baseball caps throwing shapes and mouthing every word, rubbing shoulders with a gang that look like they’ve come straight from an audition for Straight Outta Compton 2. 

Everything is cool until a fight breaks out in the crowd, a guy with a pubic afro gets into it with a kid with thousand-yard-stare killer eyes. It could go either way and for a moment my attention shifts from the stage to these two. A bouncer breaks it up before it even really begins though. Up on stage Giggs plays on as if nothing happened. He chats with the crowd, explaining how the police shut down his shows back home, before removing his sweat top and handing it to the third guy on stage, whose job seems to be to film everything on his iPhone. The look of concentration on the cameraman's face suggests learning difficulties might be involved. 

Then before we know it, it’s all over. The crowd shout for more, but when Giggs walks back out the DJ puts some music on and it’s too late. The show is over. He was astounding, and both me and Pernilla talk about nothing else all the way home. Both agreeing that it was one of the best things we’d seen in ages and how we can't wait to see Skepta, Kano, Stormzy and Wiley at some point.

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