Frankie Stew & Harvey Gunn with Normanton Street @ Patterns 08/06/18
Patterns, a relatively new venue based in a building with a long legacy of putting on live shows and raves of the highest calibre, was the ideal venue to kick off the QM Records five-year anniversary celebrations. Francesca Fulmini was on the bill to open; a singer with soulful mid-range vocals who brought chilled out R&B vibes to warm the evening into higher gears.
First up to headline, we were treated to a set from QM’s founding partners Ned and Nicholson, playing in their band Normanton Street with their enigmatic vocalist Phoebe Freya. Normanton Street’s amalgamation of upbeat hip-hop and soulful tones leant itself to the buzz of a warm summer evening outside. Ned’s energy in particular, as he jumped about noodling his guitar, encouraged a swaying crowd of head-boppers that continuously trickled in and built up throughout the set.
Two standout moments happened later on during their performance. One was a performance of ‘Unclear’, a track Normanton Street released at the start of the year with jazz-inflected brass and chilled yet punchy drum beats. This song is completed with a hook that you can’t help but sing along and in some way relate to. This track particularly complemented Phoebe Freya's high-toned voice. All throughout the set, she played along the scales with her melodies and sliced through the room with her soulful — sometimes raspy — clarity that perfectly off-set the lilted bars of Ned and Nicholson.
Soon after this performance, Bobbie Johnson, a hip-hop artist often on the bill as a headliner at QM Records events with a cult following in Brighton, popped up on stage to vibe out with the band. And the audience went mad for it! These last moments definitely delivered on creating the foundations for an energetic rest of the evening. Bobbie’s surprise appearance was such a great way to round up the finalities of Normanton Street’s set and served as a reminder of the community that QM’s ethos is founded in.
Rounding up the night was an electric performance by Brighton’s very own rapper-producer duo Frankie Stew & Harvey Gunn. Frankie Stew’s alarmingly sincere and grounded bars are majoritively self-reflective and reminiscent of a bildungsroman novel in the way the each song often narrates a different segment of his life. His self-assured performance easily changed pace to suit Harvey Gunn’s undulating beats. The performance was great in the ways that the boys interspersed new and unreleased tracks with older and familiar music. In certain moments it felt like time was suspended as the dark setting of Patterns and Harvey’s euphoric beats gave off moods of a rave, particularly with the laddish chants going on in the depths of the front-centred audience from dedicated fans.
This set showed off the pair’s raw talent and varying musical influences, which at times verged onto grime and then more towards their mastering of dance-inflected genres like garage and house. ‘Coconuts’ in particular was a fun track that Frankie had specifically asked the crowd to dance along to; the song’s playful bars and uptempo production suited to Frankie’s unrelenting liveliness and commitment to keeping the energy up and moving.