Slaughterhouse & Supports: Manchester – live review

Slaughterhouse (plus supports),
Manchester, Sound Control,
17th May 2012

So what happens when a self confessed indie kid goes to his first ever hip hop gig? Read on to find out…

Downing the bottom dregs of a bottle of wine while catching the end of ”˜The
Chase’ wasn’t the most promising starts to a night, but it was readily available
and the gig was starting within the hour. As I left the sun hung over the industrial
estate across the road, illuminating the familiar scene of red brick terraces and
estranged Salford students. I was going to meet one of my course mates for
the obligatory end-of-year night out, but rather than head for the recognizable
venues stained with red-bull and vodka, I had agreed to attend my first ever hip-
hop gig.

Sound Control was the venue and ”˜Slaughterhouse’ was the act. The Hip
Hop super group formed from each corner of America signed to Eminem’s
Shady records. But this is about as far as my knowledge and experience of
contemporary hip-hop goes. It was to be a new experience for me, as I was brought up on naughties ”˜indie’ gigs, but the prospect left me intrigued despite
any preconceptions I had.

Arriving at the venue, having discussed the Mancunian preliminaries of the
previous weekend’s football, my anxieties were reaffirmed with the bouncer
discrediting my course mates ”˜hip-hop’ choice of clothing. “Here we go”, I
thought. Entering the building (slightly unsure of the cultural codes of conduct),
a drink soon eased any sub-cultural tension I had imagined. Up the stairs to the
gig, the smell of cannabis hung heavy in the air, amongst what I perceived to be a
moderately mixed crowd we found a spot and stayed there for the entire show.

The acts started with Don’t Flop rap battles (http://dontflop.com/). Something
I was well acquainted with through my time shamelessly binging through
YouTube. I found it to be an excellent icebreaker for the evening, creating a
competitive atmosphere in which the crowd played an active role. I couldn’t
help but draw parallels between it and my undergraduate viewing of prime
ministers questions. With only words to make their case and rhymes the only
means of gaining credibility, the crowd (the backbenchers) reacted to a variety
of exchanges producing a range of outcomes from laughter to general distaste for
the performer.

The first support act followed, I missed their name but with their shirts and
songs both announcing ”˜MOSH TEAM, FUCK YOU’, it meant I wouldn’t forget
them any time soon. A local act, they were the kind that would strike fear
into the hearts of the ”˜estranged Salford students’ I previously mentioned,
with a high-energy and seemingly aggressive performance. Next on was ”˜High
Rise’; they appeared to me to be the more conventional hip-hop outfit, but my
understanding of the crowd took a knock after they were booed off having
announced, “We are going to do two more songs”.

By the time Slaughterhouse reached the stage I realised I had underestimated the prestige and hype of the gig. Coming out to the fanfare of ”˜Sound Off’, the
opening track of their 2009 self-titled album, the atmosphere consumed the
room and I, the slightly-long-haired-indie-boy from a middle-class estate in the
Northeast, joined the arm-waving multitude as the temperature of the venue
sky-rocketed. Unlike the rap battlers and the support acts, the credibility of the
group was never in question and in contrast to the kind of gigs I was used to,
the set list seemed to follow a less rigid system, with songs being interrupted
allowing freestyles and dialogue with the audience to ensue. One thing that
appeared to ring true of hip-hop and of my spiritual base of rock ”˜n’ roll was the
demand for authenticity and the homage paid to their musical and sub-cultural
entity.

The performance appeared to tail at the end, and whether this was due to the
artist’s attitude or just the climate of the venue I am not sure, but what appeared
to be a lackluster performance of the kind of song I’d hear skipping through
Capital FM seemed to disintegrate what had been, for me, an exciting insight into
the subcultural diversity a city such as Manchester offers.

All words Daniel Swanson.

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