Live Music + Gig Reviews

Buraka Som Sistema @ Roundhouse, London


Camden’s biting cold and monstrous traffic jam is a world away from floating around the sweaty climes of Barcelona and La Coruna. With Sonar 2011 still three months away, this mini preview ahead of the 19th edition of the festival finds a bevvy of its billed artists showcasing the not too distant future.

In the Roundhouse’s main space, made intimate by the addition of drapes, we find Barcelona beat merchant Noaipre bombarding the PA with an erratic array of loops. Where his studio work nestles on the more melodic dubstep / funky side, this is pure skullduggery, so we decide to move on (with bled ears) to the Red Bull Academy stage.

Correction, it’s an empty bar area with a barrier and decks in the corner pumping out garage.

Back over in the main space is Ninja Tune’s next hopeful Dels. Collaborations with Micachu and Joe Goddard on his imminent debut album Gob have seen his stock rise. The likes of the stomping Shapeshift work the crowd well and in the UK hip hop stakes, Dels is a good bet.

Buraka Som Sistema really need to make a new album. It’s been three years since Black Diamond. In a strange sort of way though, the propulsive, percussive sound of Kuduro is as fresh as it was back then because there really isn’t anything out there that combines the blur of intensity, rawness and sheer eccentricity of their show, be it Conductor’s provocative booty shaking, Lil’ John bouncing across the stage or Kalaf whipping the floor up.

This year sees Buraka’s third appearance in four years at Sonar, which testifies that even if they don’t make an album for the next 10 years their live appeal is such that they’re always invited back with open arms by the organisers.

Aqui Para’s marriage of live tribal drums, wonky samples and jackin’ beats blasting through the rig has the main floor a contortion of grinding bodies and euphoria, perked by dropping the likes of Daft Punk into the mix. The show’s climax saw the now customary invite for female members of the audience to shake it onstage.

Later, the second stage is full of bobbing heads as MJ Cole delivers his brand of garage, but it’s far too muted and clustered in a corner to get into. Returning to the main space, the mass of hair and sound that is Gaslamp Killer is bouncing up and down.

After the energy of Buraka Som Sistema, leftfield experimental electronica/hip-hop proves to be something of an anticlimax. Watching, as he would have it known, the Motherfucking Killer” bludgeon his iPad to spew out a rabble of beats and samples

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