“If you do not understand the basics, how can you understand the bass?”
As the fog of weed smoke fell, Big Narstie swaggered onto stage like a tranquillized elephant. After passing his spliff to the front row, the Brixton grime MC declared “Don’t bun it now, we’re already getting into trouble”, and proceeded to charge into his comical hit ‘Hello Hi’ which finally had the crowd bouncing after hours of The Splurgeboys’ amateur performance.
Despite the fact that my accomplice was in a full white suite following a themed boat party, we felt less than uncomfortable surrounded by Ellesse-clad roadmen thanks to Big Narstie’s free Cognac and hilarious performance. Exemplified by him taking home the 2015 Personality of the Year Rated Award and becoming a YouTube personality attributed to his Uncle Pain parody agony aunt series, Narstie has sauntered into the popular sphere in recent years. In addition to his fans, (known as the BDL or Base Defence League), he has achieved great admiration from fellow grime artists as his unique ability to combine humour with a close reflection of London gang culture has been regarded as nonreplicable.
Laden with catchphrases such as “PAIN”, “GAS” and “BASE”, Big Narstie’s ambiguous slang rang through the Phoenix with its Adidas-sponsored crowd chanting in chorus with the artist’s hype-men. Notably, Narstie’s pun on base/bass, simultaneously reflecting a respect to realism and the heavily distorted beats of current grime, seemed to resonate with the crowd as much as the amplifiers’ booming vibrations. Moreover, the MC then asked the rhetorical question “If you do not understand the basics, how can you understand the bass?” to really set the wired crowd into deeper thought while they skanked and gurned.
Then, alike to Moses, Big Narstie parted the crowd (to security’s disgust) in preparation for a ‘wall of death’. Usually found in their natural habitat of Bring Me the Horizon gigs, these consist of the two opposing sides colliding as the chorus drops to duel like a Lord of the Rings battle and mosh until either sense returns or is knocked from the brain. Screaming “Cowabunga!” like an enraged Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Big Narstie commanded the clash to the delight of the night’s revellers and chaos ensued.
“Exeter has helped Big Narstie become “a big fish swimming in the ocean””
Coming to an eventful close at precisely 2 AM, it is clear that regardless of Narstie’s riotous performances his organisation, branding and direction are meticulously planned. His popularity and progress as an independent artist have led him to perform at Croatia’s Outlook Festival 2015 alongside Boy Better Know, Run The Jewels and Flatbush Zombies (but we all know his Exeter show will remain his greatest).
Additionally, footage from this performance has been used in Narstie’s new music video for ‘Barracuda’. Hence, we can only assume that Exeter has helped Big Narstie become “a big fish swimming in the ocean”.