MK1 at Barfly Camden
Self-proclaimed “dubstep duo” MK1 have amazed, amused and scandalised audiences with their unconventional appearance and mouthy relationship to judges. The quick-fire axing of their tone-deaf, bespectacled third member at their first X Factor performance in 2012 saw them through to the finals, but the pair went on to further offend the panel, when they accused them of rudeness for chatting during their final performance. These spats with critics imply the kind of fresh, non-conformist attitude to be expected from a hip-hop act, and leaving the show without the X Factor medal hasn’t defeated the band’s popularity. They’ve since released two music videos, and have performed widely across the UK and to their legions of LGBT followers at Brighton’s Gay Pride, in June 2013. And, as last night’s show at Camden’s Barfly proves, their energy and fighting spirit have survived their current UK tour.
The intimate upstairs venue at Barfly is buzzing with an excited crowd. When MK1 enter to rapturous applause, we see that their unique style has been copied among the fans, who appear like clones of each other in baseball caps, baggy black T-shirts and leopard print. This dedication on the part of their fans is a sure sign of the band’s popularity. MK1 themselves are interesting to watch in terms of their visual disparity. Charlie Rundel, a nineteen-year-old Cornish blonde exudes an angelic sweetness, which offsets 24-year-old Simeon Dixon’s ropey urbanity.
They kick off with Is There Anybody Out There from their Eyes Wide Open EP. Rundel’s vocals are strong and soaring, despite her pint-size. Dixon’s rapping is powerful, confident and punchy, but its Rundel who steals the show as Be My Baby reveals her as a fast and furious lyricist, surprising for someone so cherubic.
The pair namedrop UK grime sensation Dizzy Rascal and rapper EMINEM as their main influences. Rascal’s essence is audible in the non-offensive, largely feel-good nature of their lyrics, but only new track Talk Dirty to Me reaches a Dizzy-esque calibre of catchiness, with an interesting oriental-inspired saxophone refrain. But what the other tracks may lack in originality and lyrical genius, the pair make up for in soul.
They’re both on excellent physical form, leaping around the small stage and interacting with their besotted audience. A rendition of Linkin Park’s Numb forms an unoriginal and underwhelming cover, but MK1 build up the energy again with new video track Let Go. It’s not the freshest or most riveting of tunes, but it’s performed with the exuberance that is characteristic of this lovable and fiery collaboration.
Photos: Francesca Capra
For further information about MK1 and future events here.
Watch the video for Is There Anybody Out There here: