The Ends Festival displayed 3 days of a delightful spread of music. It presented an intriguing blend of artists that play with so many different sounds inspired by countless genres. Hosted for the first time in, the Croydon-bound Ends Festival managed to put on a safe and great event that offered a lovely insight to the range of music appreciated by the festival goers. Legendary acts like Nas, Wizkid and Damian Marley ended the days in honour of the first Ends Festival. They were accompanied by a variety of homegrown talent and artists that fit the festival's bill. International acts like Damian, Masego, Burna Boy, De La Soul, and a heart-warming homage to the late legend Nipsey Hussle, displayed an awesome range of musical talent. It was fascinating to see the crowd, sometimes stopping to ask who they saw or wanted to see, and the range of artists they admired that were present. Friday attracted a rap engrossed crowd for De La Soul, Nas, Ghetts and more. Saturday had a large wave of people obstructing the Main stage for Afrobeats with Wizkid headlining and Wande Coal and Teni featuring over the day. Sunday had a massive turnout for Burna Boy, with Dave making a special appearance for Location, Damian Marley and J Balvin. Though between grand and established acts, many upcoming artists had the opportunity to showcase their talent to the ends.
The name Ends Festival was fitting. Many of the artists being from Croydon or surrounding areas found themselves performing locally for the first time. It was tremendous to witness artists we have seen grow into full-fledged performers take their place on a festival stage. Some of my favourite moments were having discussions on performances, seeing people bewildered by artists they have never heard. At festivals you get to witness the whole approach to performance, which adds to an artists' musicality. The three stages; the Main, Footasylum and Future stage, each presented a set of artists over the course of days. Despite the main attractions it was exciting to see the support for local artists. The likes of Jords who performed his latest single Glide, Nadia Rose and her young fans sprinting across the park to catch her set, the vibe and waves of A2 and the fans that entertained the singalong, as well as the enchanting voice of Jaz Karis. It flowed well as attendees, like myself, managed to plan and attend sets between each other to champion the artists we wanted to see. Though one performance I definitely could not miss was Badside’s, a local collective from Thorton Heath and South Norwood, that performed last on the Future stage right before Nas.
Badside are a multifaceted collective of artists, including Ellz (@ellzBS), Proton (@ProtonBS) and Gray (@GrayBS_). They all have the ability to write songs and produce intertwining rap, singing and occasionally trap within the lyrics. The group enjoy playing with an alluring variety of musical styles. Each individually presenting a different approach to music and very much their own artists. Though coming together to serve a chemistry they call Badside. The collective have been working in or around music for almost a decade. A lot of groups can overshadow each other or make music that sounds scarily like today's thriving sounds. Though a collective that invests within each other musically is rare, and over the last couple years Badside have done just that. Each of the artists have been consistent with their own styles, preferring to stick to what they know rather than accustom taste to times. They are unique insofar as they champion their own sounds; each having their own performances at a range of venues. I have seen them individually perform on several occasions but jumped at the chance to see Badside in whole for a full set. Ellz is an effortless rapper and exemplified this recently with his tape last year, Bad Business. The success of the tape saw him join Hardy Caprio on his sold out tour in Dublin, Nottingham and Glasgow, where he has performed a spread of songs from his tape including Big Slime, his most infectious song on the tape, that certainly shuts down everywhere he goes as it did at Ends. His video Never Scared, also from the Bad Business tape, epitomizes his ease with rapping – a rabid flow and light delivery showing his skill. Like most of EllzBS' music he displays lyrical prowess that keeps you fixed and building a picture of the puzzle he is painting. Ellz is a mark of the ends, his content speaks of the fearlessness with the identity he has built and secured himself while depicting the characters and relationships he sees in the people around it. Today Ellz tours and performs, treating crowds to unreleased gems like Lifestyle, a tune in which he and Gray really capture the livelihood of where they are from and the situations of a young musical man. He released his latest tape, Bad Attitude, on 16th June.
On the flipside, Gray is a world away sound-wise, which adds to the spread of Badside’s versatility. Blending singing, rap and bars riddled with the lifestyle of a trap, Gray evokes a different kind of emotion. He is smooth and soulful. He has performed at a spread of venues on nights tailored to the variety of sounds the UK has to offer. Such as the Old Blue Last, Rye Wax, Notting Hill Arts Festival, and recently The Set London where he performed Deposition for the first time, a song that has racked over 130,000 listens on Spotify. He performs next on the 18th June at Boiler Room and is always on a line-up full of intriguing artists. His music is very thoughtful and captivating as it sends you through his own stream of consciousness and reflections of the lifestyle he lives. The approach to song writing Gray has invites you to reminisce, as if he is telling your own story, while grounding you into newer imagery of how he interprets it. With songs performed on the day such as Life Unfolds, which has a well-worked video capturing his image, Lifestyle with Ellz and No Boo with Proton. Though Gray is not as sweet as he sounds, his tape Persevere released earlier this year hints at sounds he admires and implements into his music. You can see the unique blend of RNB, soul and jazz influences in his work.
The mastery of Badside’s sound, which feels much fuller and more professional is thanks to Proton's production and expertise as a sound engineer. Though his music catalogue and history are vast, (with his Grime days in his past) his years of a rap and singing discography compliment his musical interest and scope of ideas. Proton released his tape Unloading last year, which showcased the ease within his music. Songs like Woah, for instance show that Proton is really good at creating pockets to flow into. The tape is full of grand production, and a much clearer listen than some of the most famous artists' projects. His music is uplifting and feels like a composition. A lot goes into the production that does not overshadow his words, and like Gray, though with a more upbeat singing voice, he can catch a note. Like Ellz he is an incredible rapper. The whole package of Proton’s work is great to listen to, it sounds cared for and hardly rushed, an encouraging way to feel about someone’s music. It leaves you wanting more. Proton has worked with a fantastic spread of artists as an artist himself and obviously through the production side of things, with collaboration with Mura Masa, featuring on Kamakaze’s song Coldiene, which has over 700,000 listens on Spotify. Proton has also broken into TV show soundtracks, working with TheUnder on Out Control for a show, Escape at the Dannemora – a very good HBO production. Proton is the mark of a multidimensional artist and he has utilised his skill set as a career and has a stunning musical resume.
The three from Badside's collective greatness was shown at the Ends Festival. With the passion in their sound evident at every show, with unreleased gems laying in wait, Badside certainly made an impression on the day. There is much more to come that will really bring to fruition Badside’s talent. Like many of the artists the festival had the privilege of showcasing, it is important to highlight and recognise the brilliance that stems from the ends.