Jme brought his whole crew to town for the Bristol leg of the Grime MC FM tour
Words: Joe Valek, @joevalek
Images: Mitchell Williams, @mitchellsvisuals
Doors at 22:00, last entry at 22:30. “That must be a mistake,” we thought, but we still turned up at 22:10 to be safe. Everyone else must have had the same thought.
JME and crew
The queue was densely packed and the atmosphere was one of anticipation. When past the cute but focussed sniffer dog, we battled our way through the hordes of students, roadmen and people who remember grime when Wiley was asking, “Wot Do U Call It?”
Into the main room we went and it was an instant draw for the ear plugs. DJ Oblig was providing the heavy sounds that Oblig brings; grime instrumentals over grime tunes with bars, into dubstep classics over 140 BPM, four-to-the-floor speed garage, then back to grime.
The only respite came in the breaks when Oblig filtered out the bass. You watch his hands closely, bracing yourself for when he switches that filter off. You’ll never be ready though. When the bass comes back, it is almost paralysing; I don’t exaggerate when I say that you could see the bass displacing the strobes as they moved in front of the speakers. Either that or my brain was shaking.
P Money (L) & DJ Oblig (R)
Finally breaking free from the trance, I looked around and noticed the already busy room was filling up quickly. Thanks to Freestyle Bristol, we had AAA passes so Mitchell and I decided it was a good time to assume position on the balcony above the stage. From there, we could see just how packed out the room was. Side to side, front to back, top to bottom, the crowd became one organism, with each shove moving across it like ripples over water.
By the final few minutes of Oblig’s set, the sense of anticipation diminished as the realisation of what was about to go down kicked in. At precisely 23:00, P Money burst on stage, ready to remove any stragglers who were reluctantly hanging onto their dignity and doing little more than merely bopping their heads. The deal was sealed when the DJ played the National Skankthem aka Rebound X’s legendary Rhythm & Gash. P Money said that, out of respect, he wasn’t even going to spit on it. The room was ready. They could smell blood and were getting hungry.
P Money left the stage at 23:30 and DJ Maximum entered. The room was quiet, everybody waiting for Adenuga himself. A few nods were exchanged between DJ Maximum and the stage manager, and we were once again hit with a wall of fat kicks and swung hi-hats.
Jme appeared. Dressed in a silver and red Nike short-tracksuit, brand new Nike Airs and his emblematic durag, spitting “I’ve got a black ski mask but I don’t ski” with a surprising amount of ferocity for a song he’s performed thousands of times. The crowd were singing it back with the same energy. Jme smiled to himself as he trailed off mid-bar to let us finish them. The thirst for blood was being satisfied.
Jme stayed alone on stage for a few more songs before bringing out his first guest. This is a sign that he is listening to feedback, as previous reviews have argued that the people want more time with just Jme, hearing him perform his songs, alone. Jme is clearly a man of the people because that’s exactly what we got.
His first companion on the stage was the grime legend Manga Saint Hilare. Not nine bars in and Manga was getting his first wheel up. The first of eight that is, making him the most reloaded artist of the night. No surprises there. Then, slowly, as the tunes kept coming, so did MCs. Two by two, they’d enter the stage. Jme would hand them a mic each, and they’d do their thing for a few minutes, then pass the mic to someone else. Just like pirate radio.
Manga St Hilaire
Once everyone had been welcomed, the mic-passing continued in a seemingly never-ending onslaught of bars and reloads. We certainly were spoiled. Jme not only brought himself, he also brought a lot of talent. Touching the mic were: Jme, P Money, Manga Saint Hilare, Tempa T, Shorty, Capo Lee, C4, Logan OLM, Blay Vision, Flirta D, Merky Ace and Layz Music. Any grimehead would be elated with this, confirmed by the shock, joy and awe on the faces of the super fans in the front row. One fan in particular jumped up and down every time someone new came on, and was spitting along with everyone all night. Impressive.
The night went on; more wheel ups were had, more drinks were thrown, more faces were screwed. After about two hours, Jme gave DJ Maximum a subtle nod and the tune faded out. Jme expressed his utmost gratitude for everyone’s attendance and gave some potent advice along the lines of “believe in yourself, work hard and your dreams will come true.” Jme ended the set with an exclusive, unreleased track. Everyone gave their remaining energy, bouncing and moshing as if it were the first track of the night.
Watching from above in that moment, it was truly magical to see. Thousands of people were captivated by a song they’d never even heard before, and may never hear again. That was the point of the show. It was an education in grime music. An education in grime culture. An education in pirate radio culture. Jme used his name not only to give his fans a rare opportunity to see him live, but to showcase grime to those who perhaps don’t know much about the culture and its history beyond Man Don’t Care or Shutdown. Not only that, but was doing it with his friends. It really was an honour to witness so many great MCs together… not performing, but having fun.
Grime MC FM in full effect
The room very quickly emptied as the poor unfortunate DJ who had to follow that begrudgingly took the helm. The vibe changed heavily as bass house music started playing. No disrespect intended to the DJ – I’m sure they were perfectly aware of the challenge they had ahead, and they faced it with dignity. The crowd who stayed were certainly entertained. However, we soon followed suit with the punters and ventured outside for some much needed cold, fresh air. Looking around, you could tell that people had just seen one of the best shows of the year.
Blayvision in a surreal moment plays Street Fighter onstage!
A brief conversation with Jme confirmed that there will be two more Grime MC FM events in 2023. I strongly recommend keeping a close eye for when these are announced as tickets will sell fast. Earplugs required.