Wembley Arena, November 7th
With four stages, some of bass music’s biggest names, a ludicrous amount of wattage and around 7000 people in attendance, we were well aware that the Red Bull Culture Clash was going to be an epic event. But the level of intensity which unfolded over the evening at Wembley arena isn’t something we would have dared predict.
The four competing teams were Major Lazer, Annie Mac presents Magnetic Man, dub soundsystem royalty Channel One and grime collective Boy Better Know, who were crowned the winners judged by the crowd’s reaction, largely due to their brilliantly antagonistic stage banter and their raw, no-frills performances.
The competition was divided into four rounds, but with the rule of no special guests until the last round broken numerous times, after round three host Tim Westwood had to step in and announce that all points earned so far were disqualified. It’s easy to see how the teams found it so hard to keep their guests tucked away backstage. Mac’s team included the much-hyped teenage bass duo Disclosure, and the appearance of singer Sam Smith who performed live vocals for single Latch felt like solid proof of the group’s talent and ambition.
When Major Lazor unleashed Stylo G for a rendition of Call me a Yardie early on, the crowd went appropriately apeshit. Throughout the event, Channel One held a sense of deep integrity and their vinyl only roots sets earned them heaps of respect from the younger generation of bass heads in attendance. Yet it was BBK who had really been rousing up the tension all night, naming Ms Dynamite a traitor for appearing with Annie Mac’s camp rather their own and sabotaging the surprise of Major Lazor’s absurdly big-name guest Usher as retribution for cheating in earlier rounds. With Round Four being treated as a blank slate, Wiley, JME, Skepta, Jammer and co. leapt at the opportunity, spitting over menacing trap classic Hard In The Paint, bringing out Lethal Bizzle for Pow and running through a catalogue of grime classics with the kind of ferocity that characteristed the genre’s early days. By inspiring the loudest, rowdiest crowd response of the lot, BBK were crowned undisputed winners, and you just can’t argue with that.
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Words: Darren Pearson
Photo: Steve Stills for Red Bull