Peckham, south-east London. An area that has become the focus of rapid gentrification over the last few years, fueled by (what used to be) lower rent, the all-important Overground line that connects south London to the ever fertile east side of the city and the appearance of several decent night time venues, including the Bussey Building. In the basement of the large converted warehouse lies Rye Wax where Gaika, a south-Londoner himself, performed his debut in the city. Taking place on his home turf, it was one of his most important gigs to date.
Rye Wax makes for a great little intimate venue. We’re big fans of low ceilings, pillars and a generally brutalist, dark, sweaty basement vibe and the record shop confidently ticks all those boxes and brings in a young, energised crowd, too. The setting was ideal for Gaika’s potent appearance.
With an arsenal of unreleased music which blends often ferocious vocal delivery full of political venom, instrumentals that straddle the line between industrial and ghetto and a performer clearly focused and hungry to give his audience his very best, Gaika’s show was explosive at times, raw, dramatic, high energy and very entertaining.
Obviously a little nervous when he first came out, Gaika performed behind the kind of metal barrier usually found lining London’s streets during a political march or Notting Hill Carnival (both apt uses in relation to Gaika a man whose bashment influences allow him to express a wide range of politically-influenced commentary). As he got into his flow, confidence oozed out of him segueing into a grime interlude where he rhymed over classic instrumentals like Wiley’s ‘Gangsters’, getting the crowd hyped up no end. After that, it was an audio assault thought not too heavy as to overpower the venue and crowd, but powerful enough to hold your attention and relay the messages Gaika has threaded into his lyrics.
As a performer he took charge of the space he occupied, grabbing the mic stand at one point and holding it over his shoulders and during another dramatic moment, crouching down on the floor as if in deep thought. Most entertaining was his encore, ‘Chopper Keith Richards’, when he was beckoned from back stage by the crowd, one of whom challenged him to “go harder”, to which he duly obliged, trying to shove the metal barrier out of the way, stepping out into the crowd and basically going on like a madman – the kind of switched on, fired up, social construct-challenging madman that only south London can breed.