Aristophanes is an upcoming Taiwanese rapper, probably most known for featuring on the last Grimes album, however her own material is makes her stand out on her own. Her sound consists of spectral, but firm beats and her rapping in her native tongue which makes for truly otherworldly listening. She overcomes the language barrier with ease, with all her emotions still coming though even if you're in the likely position where you can't understand a word she's saying. She recently put out her latest mixtape 'Humans Become Machines' and tonight she hits Leeds' Headrow House to deliver a show that's just as enchanting as her music.
First though we have S a N T I N O who, no exaggeration, is like watching Prince. He can slip so easily in and out of different styles, with such sass and energy, bouncing everywhere around his gear, at all times and still activating his synths as well as occasionally whipping out a guitar for slick licks There's some future-pop, hip-hop, funk, even some k-pop sounding stuff which is reinforced by a screen displaying a lot of anime. You're bound to find something you'll like in this artist.
Next up is a highly promising producer by the name of Kai Whiston who delivers a fusion of mad-scientist mayhem and body-possessing groove. This is only his second show, yet even at such infancy he kills it like a long-time pro. Whether it be the icy, but bouncing 'Broody' with its swift glacial tingles or the raging 'Drag Hunt' with its warning siren-like beats, every track comes out swinging, but bringing you along to the party and the results make for a few people dancing with no cares in the world.
Aristophanes is someone who acknowledges vulnerability can equally powerful as strength. A handful of her songs have an introspective, passive vibe to them, but in accepting this part of being human, can then move forward. When it does come to something with a more muscle, it explodes through thanks to how they are compared to calmer songs. The rapid 'Dreams Of Caves' ignites the most dancing tonight with Aristophanes rapping at her fastest, whilst rolling, stampeding, yet ghostly beats reinforce the adrenaline. There was absolutely no break between Whiston's set and Aristophanes'. She simply strolled onto the stage, with Whiston remaining to provide the beats. This enhanced her set greatly as she could pick up straight off the momentum built by Whiston. He'd gotten people going, and her tunes finish what he'd started. The Grimes produced track 'Humans Become Machines' is another highlight, this track marries Aristophanes' not-to-be-messed-with aggression with some of the otherworldly etherealness you often get in Grimes' music, putting you in a place that's both gritty, and magical. On the flipside, she also treats fans to the Grimes song she featured on 'Scream', which has people yelling in all-conquering glory.
She then goes back to some more morose material, including a track from her upcoming EP with Arcade Fire vocalist, Win Butler, halting the breaks on the dancing, but replacing it with a warm, healing atmosphere. It's always impressive when an artist can give you both ends of the spectrum and tonight Aristophanes made people put their minds to the side, leaving them free to lose themselves only for those minds to return feeling repaired.
This was a show where when you watched each artist, you were wondering how the next act was possibly going to match it, but everyone who played tonight managed to deliver something special. S a N T I N O, Kai Whist and Aristophanes all fully deserve your attention. This show felt like a glance into the future. A future you're going to want to be there for.
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