The long line circling around the block said quite enough about the popularity of Allday as is. Yet when one takes in the name of his tour – ‘I Should Be Working On My Album But I’m Doing a Tour’ – and the sold out status of the show, the reasons why people come to his gigs become that more apparent.
As usual, I made the naïve mistake of thinking that Gill Bates’ DJ was actually Gill Bates, before being corrected when a skinny guy in a too-large coat loped out onstage and started shouting into a mic. The room was surprisingly full by the time Bates made his underwhelming entrance, which was both a blessing and a curse. The atrocious sound levels combined with the underlying chatter combined to make his rhymes indecipherable. This shut out any chance of knowing if he was good at rapping. Despite the harsh environment he had been given to work with, Bates’ performed as if he was headlining and did an impressive job of amping up the front rows. He finished his set with ‘She Knows’, his recent collaboration with Allday, but alas, it was not yet time for the man of the night to come out and assist.
I hadn’t heard much from Asta since her Unearthed success had died down, and wasn’t expecting too much. Fortunately, for both her and the crowd, she was amazing. Building on the solid foundation Bates had set, she threw herself into her performance from the get-go with ‘Escape’. The strength and control of her voice doesn’t shine through on record nearly as well as onstage, but it became very apparent very quickly that she has a very good set of pipes. Although many pop artists like to throw an 80s twist into their sound, Asta blends it into her entire performance, from her shimmery outfit to her animated dance moves. She finished with her most recent single ‘Dynamite’, which promptly sent off screams of recognition. Chubby Boy made his first appearance for the night, bouncing out to rap his featured verse. I really hope that people – myself included – start praising Asta loudly soon.
By the time Allday was anticipated to make an entrance, 170 Russell was packed out with many a man-bun and Stussy brand t-shirt. His hype men began with a remix of ‘Niggas in Paris’ before the star of the show ran out and launched into ‘Cult’. Allday had no need to sell himself to the crowd as they seemed to know exactly what they were there for, and thus, the good times rolled out instantaneously. It’s not general practice to attend an Allday show and sit still, nor is it general practice for Allday to play a show and not bounce around like the Energizer Bunny.
The very nature of the tour meant that his set list moved from a mix of favourites from his album, Startup Cult, to older selections from his mixtapes such as ‘Sick Sad World’. There was something for everyone. Unfortunately, this also meant that his uninspiring cover of Childish Gambino’s ‘3005’ was included. Naturally, popular singles such as ‘Right Now’ produced big responses with the singalong drowning out Allday’s own vocals. However, surprisingly, tracks such as the animated ‘Hometown Pride’ – which has not hit radio waves as a single – also went off. Whilst a lot of Allday’s material is a bit frivolous, quiet truths exist in tracks such ‘Wolves’ and ‘Eyes on The Road’, clearly striking a chord with their reflections on the more sinister aspects of being a young adult. This was perhaps most apparent when, after wrapping up with ‘You Always Know The DJ’, Allday came out once again for ‘Claude Monet’.
Attending a gig and seeing punters on every side having fun is a rarer occurrence than one would hope. When it comes to artists like Allday, I have admiration for their ability to maintain such an atmosphere whilst giving it their all – punintended – every time. Allday and his fans are really lucky to be able to attend shows on the ‘I Should Be Working On My Album But I’m Doing a Tour’ – lacking promotional purpose and existing purely for the sake of it – with both sides knowing they will have a good time.