EarthGang live in London: Atlanta rappers create a refuge of positivity (and sign a few shoes)

Electric Brixton, London, September 26

One of the multi-talented acts on J. Cole‘s Dreamville records, Atlantan duo EarthGang are in London for their second sold-out show this year. Having released their label debut ‘Mirrorland’ last month, the duo shut down London’s Electric Brixton: the first of many sold out UK shows. Olu and WowGr8 shut down the venue with their flower powers as jazz-inspired, De La Soul-like sounds fill the arena. They’ve been compared to OutKast, and it was time to test this theory.

This show features two support acts –the floating DC vibes of Innanet James and Palm Beach resident wifisfuneral. The latter comes out all guns blazing, opening up with the explosive ‘Aw Shit’, his coarse, distorted beats – typical of the Floridian sound – running through the crowd’s chests. The 22-year-old evokes a raging mosh pit with fan favourite ‘Jeff Hardy’ and concludes his set atop the DJ decks, showing off his a capella flow and raw lyrical abilities.

As impressive as wifisfuneral is, the crowd chants “EARTHGANG, EARTHGANG!” in anticipation of the headliners. When the sensational duo emerge, hysteria fills the room. Sporting the swaggiest of fashions, they weather initial technical difficulties to launch into a medley of songs from ‘Mirrorland’. The Young Thug-featuring ‘Proud Of U’ is received with a sense of gratitude, leading them to tell the audience repeatedly, “I’m proud of you”. The heightened positivity making this feel like a (sometimes rare) safe place to express and emote.

“I’m EarthGang, you’re EarthGang,” Olu reassures the audience. “We’re all EarthGang. We’re all here together”.  WowGr8 instructs the crowd to raised their hands to have a “special moment together” to the sombre sonic hug of ‘This Side’. Sending hypnotic waves surge through your body creating a fizzy feeling in your chest, the atmosphere was etheral.

The crowd claps like thunder, there’s a stage invasion – fans dancing onstage with their idols – and a trio of songs from Platinum-selling compilation album ‘Revenge of the Dreamers III’ receives an uproarious response. When EarthGang perform ‘Sacrifices’, which features only Olu’s vocal, WowGr8 raps along, his knowledge of his friend’s lyrics a testament to their great friendship.

Though the hysteria continues with the distorted fairground sounds of cult favourite ‘UP’ , which leads the audience to bounce with such ferocity that someone’s shoe flies across the venue. The rappers stuck around to sign merchandise, posters and even filthy Air Force Ones prised from fans’ sweaty feet.

This was a show that left you breathless – not because of the fight to get out the packed pit, but because the sense of community was electrifying. An EarthGang concert is an astral experience, and if you need to escape, their lofty notes can help you with that.