Guest Post: RED BULL CULTURE CLASH 2012 REVIEW
On Wednesday 7th November, Wembley Arena played host to one of the greatest musical mashups of all time. The Red Bull Culture Clash was back for a 3rd year and promised to bring dubplates, special guests and more surprises than a Kinder Egg… boy did they deliver.
The Red Bull Culture Clash is a musical Royal Rumble where four of the biggest names in the industry battle it out to determine who has entertained the crowd the most with their unique mix of DJs, live PAs, and guest spots. Red Bull went all out this year bringing in Grime heavyweights Boy Better Know, American superstar DJs Major Lazer, dub veterans Channel One, and Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac with her band of merry men (and women).
I turned up to Wembley Arena and found the Boy Better Know lads winding up the opposition. I spoke briefly to Skepta who was in a typically bullish mood and told us “Grime is built on clashing, so we will bring that same energy from Sidewinder and Eskimo Dance”. Ms Dynamite informed me she was due to appear with Annie Mac and was going to bring some of the old school Miss Dynamiteee back tonight. She also gave us a preview of her new album which will be a mix of electro with the classic sound and should be ready for release in the coming months. Also amongst the artists, we found Made In Chelsea stars Spencer Matthews & Oliver Proudlock who told us they are big fans of the music and would consider taking part in the future, possibly playing a bit of One Direction and Taylor Swift (Not sure the guys would leave the stage alive with that playlist!)
Finally after weeks of trash talking on Twitter, mainly from the Boy Better Know camp, the moment arrives and the night’s hosts, radio personalities Tim Westwood & the glamorous Gemma Cairney explained the rules. 4 x 10 minute rounds, audience decide the winner, losers cry into their pillow. There was a real sense of atmosphere in the arena and the crowd were already buzzing thanks to the DJ set by Digital Sound Boy. Channel One began proceedings in a conscience reggae vibe, however Annie Mac came out with a bang with Disclosure and a special recording from Jonathan Ross had the crowd in raptures. Major Lazer surfed the crowd on a Zorb Ball and I made the mistake of being at the front of the Boy Better Know stage when all the kids started moshing and now have the bruises to show it (When did fighting become a form of dance?!).
Annie Mac continued the strong showing in the second round with Rudimental and Skream jumping on the decks; however the round belonged to Major Lazer, introducing UK dancehall artist Stylo G and harmonised the crowd with a rendition of Bob Marley’s One Love.
Round 3 was called ‘Sleeping with the Enemy’, where participants were tasked with playing their adversaries tunes. Channel One didn’t seem to get this concept and just continued in the same reggae vein as the previous rounds. It was a quiet first couple of rounds for Boy Better Know (JME’s grumblings aside) and as the crowd was starting to turn; they pulled out a strong 3rd round where Skepta had some scathing words for Ms Dynamite, P Money and Diplo from Major Lazer. However Annie Mac took the plaudits with vintage PAs from Miss Dynamite and Maverick Sabre.
With everything hinged on the final round, it was clear every act had saved the best for last. Boy Better Know began with PAs from Chipmunk, Lethal B and even Arsenal player Emanuel Frimpong! Channel One hosted Reggae legend Luciano, however I think the audience needed to be older to get a proper reaction for their guest. Annie Mac packed out her 10 minutes with performances from Example, Katy B, & Rudimental before Major Lazer literally stole the show with the 2 biggest stars on the night; Rita Ora who came out in the now infamous white biker leathers; & Usher closed the show with a breathtaking rendition of Climax.
Now after a brilliant night’s entertainment, my money was on Major Lazer to take the crown- I mean who can compete with Zorb balls, backing dancers, & Usher? The crowd seemed to agree judging by the cheers in my vicinity, but controversially Boy Better Know were given the nod. The audience reaction was lukewarm at best, but given how fantastic the evening’s entertainment had been, there were no real losers, and there were certainly no tears in pillows.