Egyptian Hip Hop live in London
- By Jack Preston -
- Mar 06, 2013
Before witnessing their appearance at London's XOYO, Red Room’s encounters with Manchester-bred Egyptian Hip Hop had resulted in two of the more unforgettable gigs we are ever likely to attend. The first, set in a dingy basement bar on Hamburg's seedy Reeperbahn district, was an utterly thrilling affair. With the band snapping their way through a synth heavy set at lightening pace. The audience, tightly set beneath a low ceiling and bad lighting, lapping up every second of their forceful sound.
However our second experience of the quartet on stage is still, without doubt, one of the most shambolic showings from a band we have ever seen. On the last day of a particularly rigorous Glastonbury weekend Red Room arrived to one of the less than desirable dance tents, running on about one hour's sleep, with our soul dragging itself about eight paces behind us and our guts threatening to leap out of our mouth eight paces in front of us. Somehow though, we seemed in fine form when compared to the corpses on stage trying to put wires in holes and soundcheck. "Sorry about the delay, we had to borrow equipment from Metronomy," was soon followed by "Sorry, I actually forget the start of the song. Let's try again," which after four 'songs' eventually resulted in "Really sorry about this, we're not on it today and time's almost up. Bye."
So as Egyptian Hip Hop shuffled out on stage at XOYO, almost half an hour late, we felt that they owed us one. Thankfully things got off to a good start with opener ‘The White Falls’ allowing the band to ease into their indie-psych slipstream, before presenting indestructible single ‘Yoro Diallo’. The lead song from the band’s recent debut LP, ‘Good Don’t Sleep’, smoothly encapsulates everything great about the album with dreamy keys, infectious, humming riffs and warmly haunting vocals pleasantly chugging around the room.
Subsequent outings for new single ‘Tobago’ and ‘SYH’ sparked the crowd into a surprising level of fervour, enabling lead singer Alex Hewett to surf across the palms of those pressed up against the barrier. While the lack of any tracks from 2010’s ‘Some Reptiles Grew Wings’ EP was a slight shame, their seemingly permanent omission is a wise move, with their poppy-synth foundations feeling outdated against the band’s new sound.
Like many of their contemporaries who have enjoyed a healthy live career over the past 12 months, Egyptian Hip Hop are at their best when they let the vocals rest and ramp up the circuit of riffs, with tracks such as ‘Alalon’ and ‘Pearl Sound’ lending themselves perfectly to this. At times their furiously styled repetition comes across a little ‘TOY-lite’ or ‘DIIV-zero’, however whatever way you choose to look at it that's good company to be keeping.
As a live force the band can somewhat grate with their smug small talk and poor time-keeping. However the success of ‘Good Don’t Sleep’ has resulted in a band with a cohesive and appealing sound, one that effectively translates on stage.