Bouncers man the 360° silicon rod curtain that’s encircling the Roundhouse’s floor, home to GAIKA’s immersive Club 88 experience for one night only. Punters move to syncopated noise inside the Ron Arad installation, named Curtain Call, and dancers make shapes on the podium. The word “SECURITY”, the title of the Brixton artist’s 2016 mixtape, flashes onscreen, encouraging a dystopian atmosphere.
The show has been billed as an “imaginary club experience”, and there’s an ominous, claustrophobic feeling once we’re finally admitted inside, amplified by menacing mantras on flickering visuals: “Please Commit Crime”, “Heroes Die Violent”. GAIKA mounts a platform to begin his call to arms: pounding out his potent concoction of dancehall, grime and trip-hop. A tentative but eager crowd strain to hear his first spoken address, where he encourages the audience to move around the space. But people respond, dancing in circles with SECURITY’s themes of control and imposition playing out in front of us.
Crowd members willingly stand to attention for the mixtape’s title track; eyes fixed on aerial visuals of a black and white London, and then turn up to the powerful beats of PMVD and Buta. GAIKA’s recent signing to Warp is no surprise given the strength of his creative command. He calls for unity and action to rebuild a society that’s been torn apart. Falling to his knees, he closes a night that asserts: “This is our city, these are our streets in a state of emergency”.