Bruk Out: Carnival Especiale
Notting Hill Carnival is the best music festival in England. Contrary to what you may believe, I’m not a blinkered fantasist. I’ve thought about this and been to all of ‘em. Glastonbury lost its lustre when it got carved up and flogged to Mean Fiddler at the start of the noughties. Last time I went it was easier to buy a piece of overpriced portable garden furniture than it was to score any drugs – which would be great if you’re dream festival was a huge shit covered Homebase full of red faced troglodytes in wacky hats. Reading and Leeds are hell holes. Bestival is for twats who confuse dressing up as a zebra striped prick wizard for 3 days with having a personality, ditto Secret Garden Party, but with worse music and more posh people mainlining K. All the others are headlined by Beady Eye.
Basically this is other festivals:
But Carnival! Carnival is great on so many levels. First of all IT’S FREE. Carnival is primarily made by the community of West London, for the community of West London. And if you want to come along, well that’s fine, ’cause you’re welcome to. When suet faced politicians try and gee up some sort of Big Society bollocks, they need only look to Carnival to see an amazing example of a small city’s worth of people coming together to create something special.
Rather than being celebrated, this lack of involvement by ‘The Man’ – including zero overarching corporate sponsorship, absolutely no empty corporate hospitality seats, no guest lists, and a refreshingly haphazard approach to organisation, means that in general the government hate Carnival. It’s the vibrant, rumbunctious opposite to how a major ‘event’ is meant to be run in England in 2012, and I’m fairly sure this is why the aristocrats and shadows who ‘run’ our country constantly try and come up with a different reason to ban it or move it to a contained venue – usually spuriously citing violence as a reason.
This, BTW, is racist nonsense- earlier this year the Swedish House Mafia tour saw multiple stabbings and a fatality amongst far smaller crowds than Carnival attracts. Unsurprisingly, no one was banging on about ‘gang violence’ or trying to ban house music events, because the majority of attendees were white. Sucks, hmmm? Imagine if a Carnival crowd hurled bottles of piss at a teenaged female pop star, à la V Festival goers vs Cher Lloyd last weekend. We’d have David Starkey all over the telly claiming that it was some savagely misogynist Jamaican mating ritual.
What it boils down to, is that there’s a million people at Carnival drinking and partying – of course there’s the occasional spot of bother. But you’re statistically far safer there than you would be in, say, Yates’ Wine Lodge, Romford High Street branch. And no one’s tried to ban Essex.*
Ummm. Anyway, I digress.
This was meant to be a preview of the big tunes/ soundsystems over the weekend. My advice is DON’T BOTHER PLANNING. Find a spot where you like the tunes and STAY THERE. Traipsing round Carnival is crap.** It takes forever and you get squashed all the time. If you just chill you’ll see everyone you know in the course of a day, you won’t get in a grimey sweat-on, and your feet will be saved for dancing.
If you really want some pointers, I’d recommend Rampage Soundsystem – it’s massive and they always get high level guests – and Rap Attack, because the DJs are good. A couple of years ago Visions Video Bar (the Dalston venue) had an amazing float playing the craziest high speed rave soca I’ve ever heard. It was like gabba for Trinidadians. I don’t know if they’re there again, but worth checking if they are for sheer WTFness. But really, just follow a sound you like.
As for tunes, these are a couple of songs that I predict will make the crowd go batshit. Obviously there’s sound systems playing drum ‘n bass, house, trance, electro whatever, but for this column I’m focusing on the stuff that the major floats and rigs are gonna bust.
VYBZ KARTEL – PARTY ME SAY
I think the melody on this is just transcendental – it’s a recent cut on the Worldwide Riddim so may not make it onto all the systems playlists, but I sincerely hope it does. When Kartel sings “high grade weed gives me dreamy eyes”, he hits a such a sweet spot that if I were sitting on the jury deciding whether to charge him for murder (something he’ll be facing fairly soon) I’d probably just acquit him regardless. Justice Schmustice.
ANYTHING BY POP CAAN
Over the last couple of years Pop Caan’s come out from under Vybz Kartel’s long shadow, and is now pretty much running the dance. If I had to pick one track, I’d say Party Shot is the anthem of choice and is gonna be EVERYWHERE.
AFRO BEATS BANGERS
The house tempo R’n'B that’s flying out of Africa has taken hold in England big time. Hit tracks are D’Banj’s Oliver Twist, Buk Bak’s Kolom, and Azonto by UK/ Ghanaian artist Fuse ODG (which, if I’m honest, I hate. It sounds like Aga-bloody-doo.)
RDX – JUMP
I love this song. It starts off crazy and stays crazy and that’s it. The chorus goes jumpjumpjumpjump and then your head explodes.
KONSHENS – GAL A BUBBLE
Like Pop Caan, Konshens has had a strong year dominating the dancehall charts. He’s voiced all the major riddims and his cuts Bad Gal on Overproof riddim, Mad Mi on Bom Diggy and Party Tun on Worldwide are all gonna be spun. But it’s Gal A Bubble that has been his most ubiquitous track, and as such it’s the one we’ll feature here.
DRIICKY GRAHAM – SNAPBACKS AND TATTOOS
I’m not certain that this is hitting in England yet, but it’s blowing up in the States, and should be massive here soon enough. Lyrically Driicky makes Soulja Boy look like Young Einstein, as he slurs his way through a track about how he likes to wear a hat and cover his body in pictures that never come off. The beat is pure gold sci-fi rave music, and the overall effect is dumb and marvelous.
Should you feel the need to warm up for all the Carnival action, or you just want the vibe but can’t be arsed to leave East London (shame on you), you could of course come to one of my various Bank Holiday gigs – yes, dance your socks off to the Bruk Out sounds at *drum roll*
Friday 24th. Charity Shoppe @ The London Fields. 137 Mare Street, E8 3RH
Saturday 25th. Bruk Out @ The Place. 182 Stoke Newington Rd, N16 7UY
Sunday 26th. Jerk & Hot Boy Dancing Spot @ Dalston Superstore. 117 Kingsland High St, E8 2PB
Sunday 26th. Bloc Party @ East Bloc. 217 City Rd, EC1V 1JN
And as I’m officially not drinking this weekend anyone who comes up to the booth and tells me that they like to ‘bubble bubble bubble like a chicken gravy’ will get one of my various drinks tokens to do with AS THEY PLEASE. Can’t say fairer than that.
** The editor does not endorse this statement, though he does see the sense in staying put.
Ian ‘Nastee’ McQuaid