Eskimo Dance collaborated with Boxpark Croydon to produce an indoor winter festival, celebrating the regeneration and launch of Croydon’s new pop-up space. Unlike the Boxpark in Shoreditch, Croydon’s offers the space for 2000 people and could become a contender for being one of London’s most exciting spaces for music. Looking back on the night, Boxpark Croydon has some resemblance to Birmingham’s Custard factory when they used to also hold raves.
The all-day event was scheduled for 1pm-11pm. Last minute changes to the schedule meant that Wiley had been set to perform alot earlier at 2.30pm (rather than 10pm with Jammer, Flirta D etc) aswell well as changes for P Money and others (cba to mention them all tbh). It felt that too many good acts were on too early and people’s set times were spread too wide across the night. No reasons were stated for the changes in set times but it makes sense if it was to encourage more people to attend the show earlier in the day. However, it didn’t feel right to hear Rap and DnB well into the event when the vast majority attendees spent 20 odd pound to hear Grime (though Mollie Collins and Docta Cosmic did go in).
Naturally when we got the rave, we missed out on a couple sick acts (Wiley, Cadell, Sian Anderson, Prez T to name a few) but we started our night with Splurgeboys – Tee and Rocket on the mic with DJ Olos spinning instrumentals only produced by Splurgeboys/PAP camp. Preditah‘s set is defintely also worth mentioning. He started with loads of bangers from the classic Eski era, including the Devil/Bass mix of Eskimo, with Mez, Jammer and other MCs on the mic. I was surprised that Preditah did a solid Grime set as most of his current productions are off the Bass/Garage sound and I thought his set would reflect that (but obviously i know that he started doing Grime).
I was also surprised with Crazy Cousins‘ set as they played a 50/50 Grime and Funky set. Even though they are at Eskimo Dance and Flukes (one half of Crazy Cousins) was a Grime producer, it didn’t make sense for them to play Grime as that is not what they’re known for and I’m certain that the majority would have enjoyed a UK Funky set. It also didn’t make sense that Crazy Cousins didn’t play One Dance as that’s the main reason they were booked and relevant in 2016. They did however play Do You Mind, but still, they should have played it as their last song.
Section Boyz were announced as the special guests. This received mixed emotions from me and my friends. It was sick to see them perform at the opening of a venue in their ends, yet at the same time, they’ve lost alot of the buzz that they had compared to a couple months ago. I would’ve been more excited to see Giggs as the special guest. Even though Giggs is more of the UK Rap calibre, his new vibe and flow is more relevant to Grime and Eskimo Dance than ever before. Nevertheless, Section did put a sick performance and everyone went nuts when they performed Trappin’ Ain’t Dead and Lock Arff.
JME was announced as a second special guest. Doing a live PA of Man Don’t Care and straight barring on Maximum‘s set, this is something we were alot happier with. Maximum’s closing set also featured P Money, Fuda Guy, Cadet and a couple other MCs. Hearing Flirta D end the last 10 or so minutes of Eskimo Dance was definitely worth the wait, especially hearing him go bar for bar with JME. According to JME’s twitter, JME was a last minute addition to the line up who was needed to replace Wiley (definitely a justified replacement). There was also no show of Novelist who was one of the main MCs I was looking forward to seeing.
I can’t end this without talking about Ghetts and Rude Kid‘s set because they actually shelled down Eskimo Dance! One Take, Peng Tings so many Ghetts’ 16’s got constant yet well deserved reloads. I didn’t expect it but they definitely received one of the best reactions from the whole night. They’ve had good chemistry from the days of Sing For Me and I really hope to see more of it, in both live shows and recordings.
Overall, I’ve been to a few Eskimo Dances and I always end up feeling the same way – it was great but not as great as I hoped. If you’re new to Grime or want to see most the current Grime dons performing in one event, then this is the show for you. But for me, it’s just not the same energy compared watching videos of Eskimo Dance back in 2000’s (even Wiley says this). The set up of Eskimo Dance now is too formal, everyone has set times to perform within, everyone has live PA’s. I understand though, if Grime wants to go forward, it needs to act more professional – but I just wanna have the essence of 20 MCs on the stage going bar for bar.