A band coming to Birmingham, relatively cheap tickets and something interesting to go and see: all the incentives that made four friends and I stand in a two-street long line to get into the O2 Institute and watch some musicians that don’t conform on any level. Talking amongst ourselves before we reached the front doors of venue, none of us expected to see a new, confused and still incredibly angry, emo take on hip-hop emerge. We were going to see $uicideboy$ live on-stage and completely in their element.
Standing at the back of the growing crowd as a means of avoiding the oncoming mosh-pit, there was already some sort of an atmosphere. Aside from the obvious anticipation everyone felt, there was a complete peace, a calm before the storm. Seeing the space become occupied until around 2,000 concert-goers had flaked in through the venue doors, the lights came on as the noise began onstage, and an ocean of people moved as one. The best was yet to come.
With shouts of “Rest in Peace, Lil Peep”, there was an emotionally-charged and genuine air of tribute about the concert to another key figure in 2018’s emo-laced rap. This was something so personal for the artists, it became personal for even an outsider. In all honesty, I didn’t expect such a volume of feeling from the pair. I should’ve.
Screaming into each and every word of songs like “Antarctica”, $uicideboy$ as a group ensured the soundtrack of the night was both authentic and explosive. The first few lilting bars of “Paris” were enough to send the whole venue into a frenzy, taking us out of this world and into the next. Bass booming, sprawled arms in the air as far as the eye could see, whatever was going on for people individually in their lives outside the O2 Institute, the artists invited everyone to join them and forget. There was no redemption. This was hip-hop, offering salvation and vengeance, if only for the hours we’d spend with the music.
Throughout the years, hip-hop has changed and evolved, and $uicideboy$ is a part of that evolution. For me personally, the concert was a celebration of expression, however dark, however reckless, and it was universal to all. Even though it was different to pioneers of rap and hip-hop like Tupac, and even more modern artists like Drake, (instead being a type of rap music with a frightening, fairly emo edge to it), it still felt limitless. That’s what spoke to me.