Grandson (also known as Jordan) creates music that almost defies genre. With a mixture of rap, rock, and alternative hip hop, it also manages to present a political platform, where he speaks about issues close to his heart. Six months ago, he played his first London headliner, and on the 22nd of May he returned to a sold-out show at The Underworld in Camden.
I arrived at about 5 o’clock and already there were about 50 people waiting in the queue. Some of them seemed to have been there for a while. Fast forward two hours and the queue stretched all along the street and around the corner. After the meet ‘n’ greet (only available for the first 10 people in the queue), we began to file in. I was first greeted with a small merchandise stand, as well as people trying to raise money for LoveMusic HateRacism – an organisation that Grandson works closely with and who are dedicated to speaking up about the issues of racism through the power of music and lyrics.
The support act, allusinlove, were a group from Leeds. I won’t speak much about them, except that their music felt heavier than Grandson’s in terms of the sound. They also made quite the statement by throwing personalised condoms into the crowd, as well as leading a “f—k Nigel Farage” chant. I don’t know much about who they are, but I can say that they felt like a resisting, activist group with a lot to say. And the crowd was visibly into the music – I could feel it in the energy of the room.
When Grandson came on (after half an hour or so of setting up the stage), the fans erupted. It was immediate – from low chatter to screaming all around. He started with “Stigmata”, and the whole setlist was a mixture of songs from his two albums. They were woven in seamlessly, and he ended with “Bills”, the first song he ever released, and it seemed fitting to end at the beginning.
Through the music, his political side wasn’t lost. Every couple of songs or so, he would give a small talk about topics that are important to him, often relating to the song he’d play next. One specific part I remember clearly is when he said “In England, it’s stabbings instead of shootings, but it’s the same violence. The same hate”. Being a young person in London – as most of the audience there were – and having attended school in South London, this part in particular resonated quite deeply with me. But there was something there for everyone, no matter what you focused on. Be it politics or mental health, Grandson was there to make you feel like you and your feelings mattered – just as he always has.
There were parts of the show where he was extremely interactive with the crowd – asking everyone to sit, ensuring security handed out cold water bottles, etc. But there was one event towards the end that was very special. A boy – no older than 14 – jumped on stage. Instead of security grabbing him, Grandson allowed the boy to hug him. And if that isn’t a clear-cut image of how close he feels to his fans, then I don’t know what is.
Thank you, Grandson, for the amazing show – the energy you brought, for the inspirational talks, and for taking care of your crowd.
Photos by Abigail Forrest