After a slight stumbling start, Saturday at 6 Music Festival got firmly into its stride at Mountford Hall. Though, addressing an elephant in the room somewhat (or, maybe making a mountain out of a molehill, only the man himself will know) – slowthai was robbed. But we'll come to that...
...Immediately. It wasn't clear why it happened, but slowthai's set was cut short. Really, really short. Halved-at-best short. Which is odd for a promising artist included on the BBC's own Sound of 2019 poll. slowthai was careful not to throw anyone under the bus, wryly saying "This one's my last one and then I'll be out of your hair. Unfortunately, they pushed me back". But there were more than a few confused by the brevity of the set, no more so than slowthai – clearly. Jumping to conclusions doesn't do anyone any favours here, but 6 Music's Twitter account carrying on like business as usual, and not responding to direct questions about what happened there, isn't the best look. Which is a shame, because slowthai's set was full of energy in spite of this – though the, how can I put this, very 6 Music audience were clearly a gear shift for a newcomer still waiting for his debut album to drop. All of the momentum he had built up quickly dissipated as soon as he shared the bad news, and as one of the most promising new voices in rap, bringing a hard punk edge to proceedings, he was, as I say, robbed.
What might have been a tough act to follow became effortless for Little Simz, who – I maintain – is the voice of British hip hop, and has been for a long time. GREY Area is her best album yet, and that's saying something, so a set on the 6 Music stage is the least she deserves at this point. Her entire set felt celebratory, a well-earned victory lap as Simz thundered through her latest's heaviest hitters. ‘Venom’ hit every bit as hard as it deserved to – turns out it's a perfect follow-up to 2015's ‘Dead Body’. In fact, Simz' setlist was unashamedly GREY Area-centric, and it's easy to see why. I didn't see an artist enjoying performing in quite the same way as Simz all weekend, and it's wonderful to see. The finest compliment I can pay Simz and the outstandingly on-point band around her, is that I was gutted when her set was over. A clear highlight of the entire festival. It's not even close. Don't miss it. If Simz doesn't come away with the Mercury Prize this year, I'm fighting someone.
Saturday's third and final act was Jon Hopkins, and well, words fail me. It's ground well-trodden in the reviewing of live music to say that seeing a certain artist is an experience, but seeing Jon Hopkins is a rare case that actually is. His setlists are transcendental, even without the use of aggressive hallucinogenics. There's a feverishness, a palpable intensity to every aspect of his performance that just sucks you in and won't let go. You lose all sense of time and place as you are transfixed by the dazzling light show behind him, and the sheer visceral thrill of his music. The iPlayer recording of his set is hilarious, because it essentially resembles a particularly dynamic WinAmp visualiser, but to be in the room watching that happen is intoxicating. I don't dance – court order – but by God do you want to listening to electronica as tight and impactful as this. What a note to end on.