SB.TV Xmas party, Koko, London
Thursday 22 December 2011
You've got to love SB.TV founder Jamal Edwards - in five years the 21-year-old has gone from being a wannabe MC with a camera to spending 2011 starring in his own T4 show, setting up a record label and fronting a jaw-dropping ad for Google Chrome, which confirmed that while he may be in the simple business of filming his buddies like Ed Sheeran, this kid's not messing around.
So all his likeable deeds have cumulated into this festive concert of 23 (!) underground and established acts, and on the surface, looks like the sort which his followers would be racing to in droves - even if one of the top billings is Marmite-ish popster Cher Lloyd. But this marathon "party" feels less like a boisterous knees-up and more school disco, where there's too much staring, not enough skanking, and given the age of the crowd, you'd expect to this to be the one time a riot would be more than excusable.
Of course, the gig's heavyweight sponsors suck out any possibly of reckless fun with such a clockwork structure, but at least the artists put in the work. Whether they're brilliantly unpolished (Mr Faizer, Lady Leshurr, Devlin), novel (Rizzle Kicks) or just bristling with charisma (Misha B, Wretch 32, Akala, Ms Dynamite, Labrinth), they're a credit to the scene which they've grown from and that Edwards makes his money documenting. Less could be said for the entrepreneur's first signing Maxsta, a baby-faced MC whose "I spit fire, I don't play" boasts didn't match his lazy gait, or the show's hosts Roll Deep, who churn out unpleasantly predictable pop without the fire they once had.
Interesting surprises come from X-Factor voiceover man Peter Dickson who hosts the F64 segment, but tries too hard to get down with the kids ("we're almost at the end," he assures them, sensing their restlessness) - and Tinchy Stryder, who closes off his quickie set with an encore alongside Labrinth and Devlin, but re-emerges randomly topless which we suspect is a ploy to get this awkward audience on side. Chipmunk pretty much bombs too.
Edwards does have a fickle target market, one so attached to the virtual reality of entertainment that they're sort of clueless to live show protocol (dance, sing - loudly?) and as such, the bash lacked spark. But it's not a terrible first effort and you get the sense that the media boy wonder will come back in 2012 with better tricks up his sleeve.
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