Spotify Who We Be paving the way for live music experiences

The music landscape has evolved at a rate of knots over the past few years, with giants such as Spotify and Apple playing a huge part. The boom of subscription services has meant the giants are looking for ways to grab people’s attention, and develop loyalty to their brand. And with that, Spotify have taken a big step in the right direction with their Who We Be live show, hosted at the famous Alexandra Palace in London.

The event at Ally Pally brought together some of the world’s biggest hip-hop, grime and R&B acts, with huge names including Tory Lanez, Craig David and French Montana as part of their Who We Be live show.

The show saw some of the UK’s top talents putting on a treat for their fans, including performances from Ghetts, Lethal Bizzle and Raye.

A personal highlight of the show for me was the appearance of FAULT Magazine #28 cover star Tory Lanez. He performed his biggest songs, with a real energy and verve. Before he was done, there was time for a spot of crowd surfing across the front rows.

Craig David showed why he’s well worth headlining, continuing his remarkable comeback to put on a great performance. He cycled through a few of his classics (7 Days, Fill Me In) alongside some of his new songs, as well as a cover of Robyn’s Show Me Love.

Ending the night was hip-hop heavyweight French Montana. Eagerly anticipated, he played some of his biggest hits such as Unforgettable and No Stylist, and was even able to call upon Stefflon Don and Krept & Konan to help close the show and make it a truly unforgettable night.

The youthful audience were delirious, seeing their favourite acts performing back-to-back-to-back and so on. No waiting around for 30 minutes between acts like you get at some music events. Each act coming up pretty swiftly after the other; as if you’ve streaming it through your earphones, with music being played continuously. It helped add to the live event aspect of what Spotify are trying to achieve, and showed they’re serious about giving people what they want. All their favourite acts delivering their favourite songs for them.

We’d love to see Spotify extend this format out to other playlists they have on their service. And if the Who We Be live shows are anything to go by, they’ll be making the right call.

Spotify Presents ‘Who We Be’ Launch Is A Roaring Success

Last night saw the debut of Spotify Presents ‘Who We Be’, a night of live music in celebration of the best urban, grime and hip hop the country has to offer. FAULT Magazine was in attendance to see if the event had the legs to take on and further expand where the Apple Music Festival left off.

Taking place at London’s Alexandra Palace, the line-up was a mixture of both longtime seasoned acts like Giggs, Bugzy Malone and Dizzee Rascal alongside fresh faces in the game, Stefflon Don, J Hus and the international rapper of the moment, Cardi B.

Starting off the show was Stefflon Don who has been flying high these last few months with the runaway success of singles “Ding-A-Ling” ft Skepta, “Hurtin’ Me” (featuring French Montana) and no-nonsense anthem ’16 shots’. All the tracks mentioned above went down a treat with the crowd, it was early in the night, but Stefflon Don commanded the stage as if it were her very own headline concert. Regarding showmanship, Stefflon did not come to play! She brought backing dancers, routines, engaged with the audience, discussed her writing process (without boring the audience) and ended on Ding-A-Ling  to a roaring crowd. A hard act to follow!

King of the North, Bugzy Malone followed ending his set by bringing on FAULT Magazine Issue 26 star Tom Grennan on stage for their performance of ‘Memory Lane’.

Tom wasn’t the only unlisted surprise of the night. However, Hardy Caprio who saw success with hit ‘Unsigned’ kicked off the night, but the best surprise award has to go to the man of the moment ‘Big Shaq’. It goes without saying that the crowd went wild for ‘Man’s Not Hot’! In a year where serious Grime has rewound itself straight into the charts, it’s a great feat that Big Shaq had one of the best selling grime singles of 2018, but we’re here for it and more power to him!

Cardi B’s performance started slow, it was clear that the crowd wasn’t too familiar with ‘Lick” which usually features her fiance Offset, but when ‘Bodak Yellow’ began, hoards of people came running back from the bar phones in hand ready to capture the queen of social media do her thing.

Next up came J Hus, who has arguably had the best year. We watched J Hus earlier this year at the 2017 Mercury Awards in which he was nominated for his debut album Common Sense. Despite still being on his debut, J Hus already has enough hits to fill his set time and then some. Luckily for us, he didn’t disappoint after performing hit after hit with highlights being ‘Bouff Daddy’, ‘Spirit’ and ‘Friendly’.

Grime veteran ‘Giggs’ was next up, his acclaim certainly merits him such a coveted time slot. Performing roof-raising renditions of ‘Active’, Lock Doh’ and of course ‘Whipping Excursion’ had the audience in a frenzy.

Dizzee Rascal closed the night with timeless classics ‘I luv You’, ‘Fix Up, Look Shark’ and ‘Jus A Rascal’ – it goes without saying that he owned the stage. With over 15 years of playing stages, Dizzee more than proved his worth as a performer. It is worth noting that he played to a noticeably thinner crowd than the other acts. It could be the audience flooded out to beat the cloakroom rush but more disheartening; it could be the fact that the average birth year of the crowd was around 2000, making them three years old at the time of Dizzee Rascal’s debut release. Although a young crowd is by no mean a negative, quite the opposite, it was humbling to see a whole new generation of music lovers appreciating Grime and Hip Hop; and not just at small underground venues anymore. Not many Grime artists of the mid 00’s played to such large crowds so it’s a credit to the genre to see them selling out Alexandra Palace of all venues.

The UK hip-hop and grime scene have attracted the masses and Spotify ‘Who We Be’ has brought that fact to light in the best of ways. If anything, Spotify has proved that there is a large enough audience in the UK wanting for an event like this. When it comes to music, Spotify has the data to prove that there’s a want and now with the roaring success of their first ‘Spotify Presents’ they’re more than ready to fill that need. The future looks very bright, and we hope to hear more from Spotify ‘Who We Be’ in years to come.

Shoreditch Fringe Festival Review: Blur 21 Exhibition

The Blur 21 exhibition is situated in Londonewcastle in Shoreditch and curated by music photography expert Dave Brolan. Even though the project space is fairly small and minimal, reminiscent of a make shift degree show room, it contains a wealth of knowledge and insight into the progression of the band over the last twenty one years.

Blur’s first photo shoot for Food Records, Simon Fowler, 1990

Q Magazine shoot, Alex Lake- Stem Agency, 2012

The first part of the retrospective contains their earliest photo shoots and tour photos through to the present day, from photographers including Kevin Cummins, Tom Sheehan and Paul Postle, the man responsible for most of the band’s photographs during their height. Blur’s first photo session for Food Records by Simon Fowler in 1990 depicts the band’s nonchalance and emotionless expressions, and their cool, composed stances are still evident today in the frame of a recent shoot for Q Magazine.

“Parklife” Album Draft, Chris Thomson and Rob O’Connor, Stylorouge

“Puritan/Under the Westway” single cover and Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon’s sketches

Brit Awards Congratulatory Press Advert, John Geary, Stylorouge

Also featured are exclusive Modern Life Is Rubbish and Parklife album artwork drafts and developments by Chris Thomson and Rob O’Connor, of design studio Stylorouge, initial ideas and sketches by Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon for the Puritan/Under the Westway single cover, the Brit Awards congratulatory press ad, illustrated by John Geary, and stood in pride of place in the centre of the room are the two Brit Awards presented to Blur in 1995 for Parklife, best album and best single.

“Coffee & TV” Milk Carton

A milk carton replicated from the video for single ‘Coffee & TV’ sits above the entrance to the next space. Headphones positioned on the walls of a darkened room invite visitors to listen to the first of a series of Blur radio shows, recorded in collaboration with Spotify. The broadcasts will also allow listeners to hear exclusives as part of Blur 21 on a new Blur app in Spotify.

Graham Coxon, Anson Room Bristol University, Paul Postle, 1994

At the end of the exhibition subdued and reflective interviews are projected onto a whitewashed wall, which are then contrasted by explosive performances of singles such as ‘Song 2’ and more eloquent songs like ‘The Universal’, Damon’s emotive expression visible through the slightly grainy projection. And lastly at the end of the room, under spotlight, the last few photos show a stunning perspective shot of Graham leant against a staircase at Bristol University, an antisocial ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’ image taken in Clacton in 1993 by Kevin Cummins, and a contact sheet of drafted concepts for the original Blur logo.

Blur fan or not, the impressive collection of exclusive imagery and unseen artwork will impress any art, photography or design enthusiast, allowing us to recognise the importance and influence Blur has had on the evolution of the history of British music.

Blur with Phil Daniels, “Parklife” Video Shoot, Paul Postle, 1994

“Blur” Album Collage, John Henry Studios, London, Paul Postle, 1996

Conceptual shoot, Simon Fowler, 1990

Click Studios, Tom Sheehan, 1991

Words and images by Kayleigh Rawlings