The King of Grime puts on a raucous display under the grand brick archways of House of Vans.
Like grime culture itself, this isn’t just a solo performance, this is a collective rave with Wiley and his mates that a few hundred randomers happen to be invited to. There are free t-shirts being hand-printed, a photo booth, and Lethal Bizzle skanking backstage in a bright blue hoodie with a handful of hype men. It feels passionate, entertaining and genuine.
Wiley’s support acts are some of London finest names in the biz and well selected for getting his crowd moving. After a shaky start and some technical issues, electric pink mistress Ms Banks gathers in a tight knit crowd, bopping happily to her early releases Day Ones
. A swarm of 20-somethings bustle and bash one another as garage/jungle veteran D Double E drops Street Fighter Riddim
. The crowd, an eclectic mix of grime veterans and baby Stormzy fans, are suitably "warm" when Wiley bounds onto centre stage.
The highly decorated rapper
spits bars with killer speed from the get-go, opening with a heavy mix on Eskiboy
, the early 2000s single and title of his autobiography. No sooner does he take it up a notch with Too Many Men
, exhilarating the busy crowd with a BBK label classic. Fists pumping and feet shuffling, Wiley is just as into the track as his loyal listeners.
In a huge drop, I Call The Shots
sends a ripple through the venue; his thick East London accent accentuates every lyric, and sounds delicious atop the heavy bassline. House of Vans’ sound system is truly put to the test only a few tracks in, and it doesn’t let up. Can’t Go Wrong
is loud, frustrated and rowdy however you listen to it, but with speakers that can handle a proper bassline, it’s nothing short of remarkable. This set really does prove Wiley can’t go wrong, especially during live performances.
Launching back on stage after a brief pause, Wiley raises energy levels with his 2015 single P-Money
. Like his audience he’s bolshie and chaotic, and has a strong command of his space on stage. Despite being enclosed by a gang of hype men, Wiley has an authority on stage borne out of the utmost respect for his legacy in the grime community.
His fans are raucous and rowdy when those familiar, bouncing synths of Wearing My Rolex
reverberate through the floor. It's only 10:20pm but it feels like a closer, as dribs and drabs of the crowd peel off in search of the comfort of food and bed. Half turning around once they catch wind of the clanging steel drum intro to Can You Hear Me?
Swathes of late 90s babies surge to the front of the crowd, reliving their sixth-form college club nights while screaming Ms D’s familiar mantra.
Wiley has an MBE for a reason; he gives everything to the underground British music scene, and the same goes for his live performances. Blood, sweat and some more sweat was shed at House of Vans, making for an authentic grime club night, and a fierce, energetic show from a veteran performer.
Photo courtesy of House of Vans