The IndigO2 played host to one of the most eagerly awaited and anticipated concerts of the year, no really, the concert was originally planned to take place on June 1st but was postponed due to issues with French Montana’s access to the country…
The lines of hip hop fans decked in throwback jerseys and snapbacks lined the serpentine queue outside the arena for a fair amount of time. On entering, we were greeted by DJ Quincy of Choice FM, who graced the decks throughout the night playing a heavy portion of bashment supplemented with the required quota of hip hop.
It wasn’t long before the space in front of the stage became occupied with people and it wasn’t long before the space on the stage became occupied by the first artist of the night, Squeeks. The husky-voiced came equipped with one hype man and a grin across his face. He transformed a weary-legged audience into a violently vibrant hoard of underground UK rap groupies. Squeeks glided across the stage back and forth with confidence and energy, the biggest rapture arrived when he performed the hit Fly Boy.
Next up was one of the most exciting yet-to-blow artists the country has seen for a long time, with viral hits and a flow distinguishable among thousands; J Spades had the building buzzing. The bulldog-built Hackney hailer took to the stage causing what could only be described as a frenzy among the London crowd. The opening tracks Amen and Hustle Hard sparked scenes of jubilation and mini mosh pits.
Now for the main event of the evening, DJ Quincy played the Bruce Buffer role introducing the Coke Boys to the adoring yet increasingly impatient partisan crowd. French Montana and his posse approached the stage much later than scheduled but there was no room for thoughts about missing last trains, this is what we had been waiting for since April and enjoyment was the only priority. The Moroccan New Yorker strolled onto the stage clutching his Hennessy bottle which he regularly swigged from during the gig. There was no jumping off of descending platforms, fireworks or scantily clad females braced between his limbs – this was a rapper with a story to tell and a microphone to tell it with. The supporters surged to the circumference of the arena to see the star up close, the female minority tried desperately hard to lock eyes with the Bronx bad boy.
It was a special night, it was his first time in London and there was a noticeable rapport between the audience and the artist which only a unique event could assemble. French stormed through song after song from his globally acclaimed mixtapes and there appeared to be no real set list as there was a constant dialogue between rapper and DJ confirming what to play next. Gaps between tracks as DJ’s fumbled between buttons and discs were filled with chants of his famous ad lib ‘Haaaa?!!’ as well as paying homage to the locked up legend Max B. ”Free Max B” the crowd chanted spontaneously, drawing a humble smile on the rapper’s face.
The concert came to a close and there was no pantomime style encore or re-appearance from French Montana, everything is straight forward and real with this guy, goodnight means goodnight.
It was a pleasure to see an artist in his element, just being himself in an industry buried in marketing money and facade. We hope he returns to the UK soon, this time with a platinum record in his grips… not liquor.
Words by Riky Bains
Edited by Natalia