In the midst of all the running back and forth between stages, checking set times, boozing up, applying sunscreen, laughing at girls who couldn’t keep their asses in their shorts and generally causing a ruckus yesterday at Parklife, one set in particular grabbed me – and surprised me – probably more than any other. The UK’s Rizzle Kicks first turned up on my radar almost a year ago when the radio show I shared with a lad from Edinburgh got its inaugural call on the request line that we only managed to work out after about a month in the business. Charlie, a kid from Brighton, asked that we pop on a tune from two London boys called ‘‘ and, after one spin, both the horns on that song and the awesome interaction between rapper Jordan ‘Rizzle’ Stephens and singer Harley ‘Sylvester’ Alexander-Sule had it firmed up as a new favourite. The events of life and the fact that Rizzle Kicks sounded positively foreign amidst a library becoming, by virtue of my accommodations, increasingly American, meant that I never really invested much time in exploring who or what the Kicks were all about.
That all changed, forcefully, yesterday afternoon when, with memories of that soggy morning when the bounding beat of ‘Down With The Trumpets’ filled the radio studio, I wondered over to the main stage as Rizzle Kicks got set up before a sizeable crowd. From the moment they burst on the scene, the hyperactive pair – and their tight band consisting of guitarists, drummer and (naturally) trumpeter – had the crowd entranced. Hip-hop shows typically fall into one of two categories: they are either intensely powerful, real showcases of intrinsic talent, or they are medley-mashup-hype-guy-shouting affairs in which air horns, gun shots and bomb blasts desperately attempt to distract from a lack of such talent. Rizzle Kicks, only really a force on the scene since their debut ‘Stereo Typical’ dropped late last year, defied all genre conventions by bringing a show as ceaselessly energetic as the best electro sets on the day, as inspired by camaraderie as the best rock shows and as effortlessly fun as any pop act.
An explanation for the loose but obviously practiced brilliance which the boys brought to the main stage starts with their higher education at ye olde BRIT School, Croydon, alma mater for other UK high flyers like Katy B, The Kooks and Kate Nash (and that’s just the K’s). But school can only give you so much of a leg up. Appropriating the James Bond, Harry Potter and Gangnam Style theme tunes, the show demonstrated that the two, just 20, obviously had the goods to begin with. A set – and festival – highlight was their boundlessly enthusiastic rendition of the Fatboy Slim produced ‘Mama Do The Hump’. In the style of much of the guitar-driven work on Fatboy’s ‘Palookaville’ record and evidence of his capacity for nailing sample selection every time, ‘Mama Do The Hump’ is raucous on record and . But seeing Rizzle and Sylvester whoop it up, dancing with abandon and throwing themselves every which way across the stage while keeping an obedient band in check, partying with the crowd and actually delivering their lines made me remember why I fell for them back in Philadelphia all those months ago. Refreshingly devoid of pretension, Rizzle Kicks remain unshakably confident and hilarious.
Rizzle Kicks – Mama Do The Hump