Never, in all the years that I’ve been going to Bristol’s O2 Academy have I seen a queue as long for Kid Ink. A sea of sports brands, perfectly bleached blonde hair and gold jewellery could be seen weaving all the way down Frogmore Street and flooding into the venue (s/o to the girl with light-up trainers, we were all jealous). Often what makes a concert is the crowd, and when the first of three supporting rappers, HardHead, took to the almost bare stage, he had an easy job warming up the audience - this crowd had arrived warmed up.
HardHead, Vee Tha Rula and Bircc Baby all gave informal but convincing performances. The rawness of each artist was impressive and the energy in the room was electric as anticipation for the main event built. I have to admit I probably would have enjoyed these warm up MCs more if I had known at least one song, but that’s perhaps to my fault as some members of the audience were rapping along as if they’d come only to see them.
Next came the main support act - eighteen year old Pia Mia from the tiny island of Guam. You might recognise her from Kylie Jenner’s Instagram, or hopefully from her recent release Do It Again with Chris Brown. Although I was very excited for her, I couldn’t have anticipated just how good her performance would be. Pia was joined by three insanely talented backing dancers and the four of them put on a high-energy, fierce hip-hop dance performance, all whilst Pia avoided dropping a single note. The highlight for me was the slow moment in her set when she sat down to sing her beautiful rendition of Drake’s Hold On We’re Going Home, followed by a surprisingly lovely cover of Fetty Wap’s Trap Queen, showing off her impressively high vocal range. She was much better live than I would have imagined.
Finally, after a DJ kept us all inflated with tracks from Chris Brown, Drake and Justin Bieber, Kid Ink exploded onto the stage and mounted a low platform that had his very own Hollywood sign on it. Kid Ink filled the venue with his aggressive, energetic MC’ing, showcasing what an impressive live performer he is. The crowd (including me) went wild for chart-toppers Hotel, Body Language and Be Real, unable to resist the dance-beats; I told you Bristol loved a party. The light show was awesome and the stage was backlit by a screen playing psychedelic images of flaming cars, haunted houses and money, making for a simple yet very effective set. The energy peaked once when Kid Ink was joined on stage by his three opening rappers and yet more Drake-appreciation was shown when he covered Hotline Bling. This guy really knows his audience.
It was such a cool gig and one I never expected I’d get to attend. Kid Ink is extremely talented and despite lacking the ability to join in with his rap verses, I still had a lot of fun. If there are any hip-hop fans reading, I strongly recommend buying tickets for his tour.