Look, we don’t need to emphasise to you just how hot it is at Glastonbury this year — but Slowthai has just genuinely scorched his feet on the on-stage PA speakers. “Where’s the socks?” he asks his team, much to the amusement of the huge and expectant crowd that’s gathered for his mid-afternoon West Holts performance. “Glastonbury, I need some socks!”
The Northampton rapper’s natural charisma is already in full flow, and it’s a key personality trait of his that has no doubt fuelled the upward trajectory of his brilliant breakthrough year. His polemical debut record, ‘Nothing Great About Britain’, has already elicited great excitement about this forthright and very in-yer-face 24-year-old, and the record will certainly come to be remembered as one of the best of 2019. He’s also enjoyed recent team-ups with big-hitters Skepta and Tyler, the Creator, while he was among the artists to get a shout-out from Stormzy during his era-defining headline set on the Pyramid Stage last night (June 28).
Slowthai was hailed by the Croydon MC during the latter’s headline speech as one of the best and brightest young new talents in British rap, and if the former felt any extra nerves this afternoon because of that very global endorsement, they definitely weren’t on show. Sauntering on stage with his shirt half-off, he’s then almost immediately down by the barrier separating the stage and crowd and interacting with the good people of Glastonbury as the clattering opener ‘Polaroid’ rings out. It’s hard to keep tabs on Slowthai’s movements throughout much of the set, whether he’s nicking bits of people’s clothing, dancing with his DJ, hypeman and regular producer Kwes Darko or managing to actually part the crowd at one point.
“I’m all about bringing people together,” he quips during one pause. “I hope after this we can all have a hug, OK?” People down the front are certainly hugging, alright — and it’s all at the behest of ringmaster Slowthai, who demands circle pits (or “circles of friendship”) and mosh pits at every possible opportunity. Even Loyle Carner briefly gets involved during ‘Doorman’, with the crowd first asking the rapper for selfies and then unashamedly swallowing him up in the mosh. He’s only saved by a wheel-up, and Carner then quickly scuttles back to the safety of the side of the stage. We don’t blame him, to be fair.
Chaos reigns supreme, but, rather than threaten to crumble under the occasion, Slowthai instead thrives off the sheer bedlam of the occasion. As Northampton Town football flags proudly fly during ‘T N Biscuits’, the main man bounces across the stage as sweat flies, beers are chucked and smiles are generated from the front to the back. He may have only just embarked on his career in music, but to generate this kind of response this early on? It’s a sight to behold.
This Glastonbury will already go down in history as the year where British rap triumphed — and Slowthai’s triumphant set will only ensure that this victory lap will go on and on.