For the past two weeks, the 2018 edition of Roundhouse Rising has seen some of the most exciting new acts in the country pass through the legendary Camden venue’s doors. Alongside Stormzy and other famous alumni, Little Simz is one of the festival’s previous guests to go on to extremely exciting things.
The rapper first shook Rising with a huge set in 2014, before last year being invited to curate a whole day of the festival, an event she dubbed Welcome To Wonderland. Today, she returns for part 2, and ends Roundhouse Rising 2018 with an eclectic bang.
With music across three stages, art exhibitions and panels, a carnival-like atmosphere is whipped up throughout the Roundhouse for the afternoon and evening. An early highlight in the venue’s main room comes from the Ezra Collective, who melt jazz sensibilities with something altogether more modern, and barely pause for breath across their 30 minute set - it’s a whirlwind introduction.
From then on, the evening is a non-stop barrage of genre-bending weirdness and straight-up, hard-hitting beats. Kojey Radical, rapper and poet, showcases many different sides across his set, throwing out sweet, tender cuts with as much accuracy and force as a new track that closes the set, written in anger for his native Ghana.
Down at the venue’s smaller Rabbit Hole stage, though, there’s no denying what Junglepussy does best. The NYC-based rapper is a complete livewire, barely pausing for breath between her songs of self-confidence and power. “My birthday Halloween so I’m freakier than you” she spits on new track ‘State Of The Union’, and it’s one of the most invigorating showings of the day.
As is expected, Little Simz is greeted like a returning hero when she closes the festival in the main space. Last year’s ‘Stillness In Wonderland’ LP is a vibrant, conceptual trip based on ‘Alice In Wonderland’, and tonight’s show is similarly fascinating. A dark, haunting trip through rap and hip-hop, backed by sparkling visuals, it’s abundantly clear why Little Simz has gained such a reputation. Curating a line-up full to the brim with fresh, brilliant talent, it’s also clear that there are plenty of others waiting to follow her into wonderland.
Photos: James Kelly / DIY