Mike Skinner’s DJ set at a packed Nest
Friday night, The Nest – in Dalston – became host to the Cellar Door club event. Ex-frontman of The Streets, Mike Skinner, was the main DJ act billed to play an hour-and-a-half set in front of a baying young crowd in one of London’s hippest venues.
It has been over ten years since Skinner and his group catapulted themselves into the public’s consciousness with their debut album Original Pirate Material, which was both critically acclaimed and commercially successful. Something of an urban living legend and responsible for pioneering the UK rap scene in the noughties, it was interesting to see what type of crowd the rapper could pull since he split from the band in 2011, after recording six albums in a decade.
On arrival, the exterior of the grounds resembled the scenes of a busy protest or riot, in which the security were trying to control the party goers, much like a man attached to a leash of a pack of hungry dogs who had just encountered the allure of a bone. According to the guards, the venue was over full capacity and people could only enter according to the number of participants who were leaving the building. The one-in-one-out system created much confusion and tension as the queue to enter was still large. Combined with the distraction of the smoking area, the doormen appeared to be in the middle of a war zone amidst the checking of identification.
Once inside, it was evident that Skinner’s star power had packed the walls with ravers looking to dance the sweat off of their bodies. He did not disappoint in that respect, filling the club with heavy dub-step, DnB, garage, house, hip-hop, jungle and even bashment.
Despite all this, the performance felt cold and distant from the man considered the voice of a generation. It felt like someone producing music by numbers and conforming to the hipster adulation of the superstar DJ: all bang but no sparkle. There was nothing particularly new or ground-breaking.
Skinner did at least show some skills as a DJ, with good BPM manipulation when mixing and decent use of the crossfader, but he could have excelled as his own MC. All-in-all, too much pandering and a lack of a nod to his own abilities as a street poet made this a disappointing spectacle.
Watch the video for Has it Come to This? here: