The Electric Brixton is home to many an event such as: Audio-Whore (January 1), being the number one house fest that feeds to the house head hunter with DJs Lance Morgan, DJ Majesty, and more spinning some bangers that keep you pumping through the night. Garage Sessions, Bootylicious, and festive parties keeps the electric current running this season; but on Monday, December 14, it housed a very special talent, a sobriety of sorts between two artists whose very home-town is London, and who remember Camberwell and beyond, like it was yesterday. Floetry and The Floacist performed a night to remember.
I have been to the Electric Brixton on various occasions. Most recently would be for the popular LGBT event Bootylicious. I hadn’t expected Floetry to be performing at the Electric, but it seemed the event would soon be well suited. It was a long queue from the start and 20 minutes in, I noticed how often people would double take at the continuous and never ending queue that led around the corner. Much harassment followed the queue with CDs and albums being thrusted into your sight for purchase, but people were in good spirits, and many smiles and bouncy anticipation seemed to burn with each who entered the doors, and made their way into the Electric.
The venue is well classed like a theatre production spot that climbs up and up with much detail and character in its roofs. The upper deck is like a long semi-circular path that had people standing and looking over at the main stage and down upon the acts that played. If you follow that path through, it leads you eventually to an upstairs cloakroom, and further on, will lead you to the rooftop and smoking area, it is a big venue indeed.
The atmosphere from the get go was buzzing. I feel Floetry’s performance from the night before may have had to match the night that would for-tell tonight, Tongues were wagging and eagerness seemed to fill the room. The electric became full quite quickly but it wasn’t claustrophobic or suffocating. I also noticed that the main stage is situated in a way that even standing at the far end, away from the center of the room still gives you a decent view of everything on stage; it seemed out of place at first, but as the night drew on, I could see this raving setting becoming a more sensible decision for the duo to perform upon.
The host, who has a voice clearly made for the radio was a sure-fire show starter! It was just brilliantly placed having this woman with tremendous looking locks and wonderful charisma, wearing a lovely example of African/Nairobi heritage that was as orange and sunny as her personality. There was a small talk on leukaemia, from African-Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT) raising funds and awareness to combat the lack of donors for African and Mixed Race leukaemia sufferers, who with a percentage of merely 20%, cannot compare to the 85% of white people with better opportunities for a compatible donor.
It was moving and an actual good cause. I am not one for race expulsion but it seemed justifiable that sometimes it can come into the play, “the lack of one, and not the other”. After this was done, buckets were passed across the crowds and the charity manoeuvred across the Electric, getting money and signatures halfway through the night.
The firs supporting act, M-Arts was at times inedible to hear, but that could be in fault to my hearing or maybe the sound equipment, or the the microphones didn’t do a good job of capturing his dialect on the microphone; but his two backing singers were quiet noticeable and I heard them clearly. His performance was one of pure spoken word about the love of his life, with excellent harmonizing from his female backing vocalists, and ending with how he “literally was doing poetry across the road with a few people in the room, to now supporting Floetry at this gig tonight“.
With their Coalition EP circulating, and their new single “Skyline” available worldwide on iTunes, it would seem this R&B duo Dora Martin have indeed done an incredible job to earn the rights of being one of Floetry’s supporting acts for the night. Made up of former Fundamental member Jermaine Riley and Cherri Voncelle, they were alive, vocal, and interacted with the audience charmingly. I’d recommend you to check them out here.
After Dora Martin exited the stage, the DJ was then asked by the host to play some tunes to get the people moving and he certainly did, with tunes like “Candy” and reggae hits like “Royal”, and the crowd was singing and grooving to the old school tunes that were coming their way. Even some dance-hall came into the playlist and had people whining and gyrating to the music. It definitely set the mood for a night that would soon follow.
Within a few more tunes from the DJ, the host came out on stage and to announce that Floetry – Marsha Ambrosius and The Floacist – was now ready to come on stage. The room went wild as the host mentioned the three critically acclaimed albums and numerous Grammy Awards that had been birthed from the group.
The presence of Marhsa Ambrosius was like a standing fluorescent aura to me. She was like a ball of charismatic energy; and a down to earth persona that showed me her London roots hadn’t left her. I nickname her the song-bird as her voice soothed the room around me into a still silence, and stirred the emotions of those close to me with almost tears – she was flying away with her voice, and then returning again to the pitch that we could try and follow. She had us at one point singing along with her, it was all in good fun.
It was like a family affair with the Floacist referring to us the crowd as “family”. She was in her element all night with a voice that brings back the memories of MC Lyte, Lisa Left Eye, and those veteran female Hip Hop artists whose emcee abilities just moved the room in rhythm + sync. The Floacist was fierce on the mic with her mantra “In order to grow, you have to let go”, she also brought the Reggae with the Neo Soul and performed “Call Me A Yardie” and other Reggaeton deliveries with Stylo G appearing on stage for a brief stint with The Floacist – it was crazy in that room.
Marsha Ambrosius’s duet with Daley was brief but fair. It wasn’t electrifying in its totality but Daley is a singer of equal status and although the voices seemed far apart, it still felt like a connection existed between the pair. An equal respect for each other was shown and it was nice to witness while it so briefly lasted.
And this brings me to another factor about the gig. Marsha and The Floacist came together like an element of poetry and song. One brought the liberal speeches, the spoken messages to the fans, the dramatics and MCing, and also the hype, whilst the other brought the harmonizing of a queen, the simplistic swag of south London, and the melody of a diva (she is not one) that knows she can hit those notes with ease.
In no way did miss Ambrosius appear like a backing libretto. It was just that the Floacist would rap and Marsha would offer up amazing harmonies, while nailing her trademark high pitched notes, alongside the Floacist’s poetry and words. The two interacted with the crowd like it was a musical panto. They performed many of their classics like “Say Yes”, alongside numbers from their old albums like “Floetic” and “Flo Ology”. They manoeuvred through the old and the new, pleasing the long time followers as well as the new ones like myself.
I admit not really being a Neo-Soul and contemporary R&B listener. It’s a section of music that usually either really moves me, or stagnates me completely. Floetry had more than just a partnership up there. Years of colliding and correlating with each other has created a force of nature that is almost a parallel of two similar but different personalities that worked together that night. Even the band members had solo pieces and came to the front to soul-out if you get my drift? It was just a joint communion of jamming and the artist.
To end the night a major selfie was taken with the Floacist asking everybody to pose including the band and crew upon the stage with revellers behind her waving and signing away a night that was very spiritual in its conclusion: Flotastic!
Words by Christine Reynolds