The 6Music festival ran for three glorious days and nights in our backyard, Camden – what a time to be in the old game.

On Friday night I went to see Greentea Peng at Dingwalls. The cobbled alley, the murky waters of Hampstead Lock, the warm orange glow of those made.com style bulbs.

Inside, I met up with Jon, the man behind Camden Live. It was easy to find him, the place was quite quiet. We wondered whether this was a coronavirus related lull, or just because we were there early, to see one of South London’s hottest new talents.

After some waiting around, we were ushered down the stairs to the stage.

Greentea Peng is a tattoo covered temptress, she oozes cool and has a voice like bee juice.

The crowd was a little nervous to begin, the classic gap at the front had to be closed. And closed it was as Greentea encouraged everyone in, closer.

I wasn’t expecting such an insouciantly stoned dub inspired performance; my aural research lead me to believe in more of a slick studio sound. Greentea was backed by a rather large band – drums, keys, DJ, percussion. But all eyes were on her, and her near-miss, pre-watershed wardrobe malfunction. Good job this was going on the radio.

6Music is the conservative stalwart of alternative music, there is always a nod and a wink to the left in their left-field programming.

Greentea, as I learned from percussion man Jason outside, is not from Bermondsey as the media rumour mill has proclaimed. In recent weeks she’s penned an open letter decrying the gentrification of her city, this repudiation is found on the new single, Ghost Town, with the refrain ‘they can’t take my city away’.

Unfortunately ~they~ probably can and will.

Performed live, Ghost Town, gets a little segue into the Specials classic, the crowd loves it. I’m too awkward to skank anymore.

All this does remind me that festival season is coming up, isolation pending, and if I saw Greentea Peng were playing, on a nice little stage in the sunshine, I would go along and laze in the grass whilst they did it.

Greentea Peng. Photo credit: Jon Himoff
Greentea Peng. Photo credit: Jon Himoff

Following Greentea Peng, Gaika took the stage, I covered Gaika as he played the Roundhouse last year. This time, he’s stripped away the full band and appeared on his own.

Stuart Maconie introduced him as a man who details the weird and frightening futures and present day realities. This is the opposite to Greentea Peng’s lionness vibe. Gaika is a man possessed and his distorted, synthetic cries hit much better this time around in a packed intimate setting.

It’s dark, it’s all very apocalpytic. When Gaika gets down and into the crowd for his final numbers, people are a bit scared. The presence of large cameras and burly cameramen does create a restrained and fearful crowd.

Live acts over, I took my leave, best to let people have a dance when the DJ is on. Not what I expected from Greentea Peng, much more of a festival sound. Gaika carries on, his show is evolving every time I see him, more theatre next time is a good direction from my point of view.


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