Review: The Bug @ Electric Brixton

Art & Culture

Electric Brixton has one of those old-fashioned billboard hoardings above the entrance. Walking past security, it's kind of funny to see 'THE BUG' written up there in those moveable black letters, as though we're about to attend something as innocuous as a film screening or a church meeting.

The venue is flowing and spacious, a far cry from the last time I saw The Bug in a cramped, sweaty room. The first half of Mala's set is enjoyed from the relative distance of the balcony, the second half from the epicentre of the action. The DMZ/Deep Medi man draws for a weighty, crowd-pleasing set that delights an increasingly packed venue.

It's The Bug though that really blows the roof off tonight. Kevin Martin – for it is he – begins with a short solo set, working in his Death Grips collab and what sounds like a new track with Riko Dan. Really can't wait for that one to come out.

Anyway, the set steps up a gear as regular collaborator Flowdan strides onto the stage, followed by Manga a couple of tracks later. It's such a joy to watch the two MCs going back and forth and trading bars, especially when Martin drops Dizzee's 'I Luv U' in the middle of the set. Their voices complement each other so well, their energies perfectly in sync.

The crew push it into overdrive for the last few songs. Martin drops 'Skeng' – still his most deadly weapon – and Killa P enters stage left for his verse to great surprise and huge cheers. 'Function' is up next – Manga's time to shine – and then 'Poison Dart', with all three MCs teaming up to wreck the riddim. Flowdan spits his bars from Kahn's 'Badman City' – the undisupted anthem of the night, with Mala having already dropped it earlier in his set. One final assault of strobes and white noise, and it's job done.

Martin posts about the show later on Facebook, upset at not being provided with the rig he had been promised – the one drafted in recently for DMZ's 10th birthday at the very same venue. Still, despite these supposed sound problems (only really noticeable towards the end), The Bug is still one of the most intense live shows you'll get to see, and energy levels were ace throughout, both on stage and in the crowd.

My evening ends after the first part of Congo Natty's set, his band's soothing reggae vibes the perfect antidote to the onslaught we've just faced. I stick around for a few songs, just long enough to hear the band break into frantic DnB, and then leave on a high, my ears ringing.