Friday 15th June. Secret location… that was later revealed to be Low Profile Studios. Doors opened at 10pm. This intrigued me instantly. I have never attended an event, not advertised as a rave, that starts at that time. Straightaway I was immersed into the world that belonged to Etta Bond. Upon arrival I joined a small but growing queue. Names were checked at the door, bags searched and a climb up to the top of a warehouse style building brought me to a room filled with electric energies, a wall adorned with broken static tv screens, seductive red lighting and dope vibes spinning soulful / funky house, old skool garage and eclectic sounds from an array of male and female DJs.
I took it all in… my surroundings, the energy, watching everyone cut the deepest of shapes into the floor, I danced too and enjoyed the moment until I heard a ripple of cheers and clapping at 22:41 pm. Etta had arrived. My initial wave of intrigue returned. I really had no expectations of the night except “this is going to be lit!” Etta mingled in and amongst the crowd, greeting friends, talking to supporters for a brief moment I actually forgot that she had arrived, it still felt like a shoobs!
I later came to realise that this was the 5th event that Etta had held over the last 4 months. The previous editions were:
#1 – Surface Edition
#2 – Let Me Hit It Edition
#3 – Everything Edition
#4 – Need You More Edition
With the 5th apparently being the final event: #5 – Feels Like Edition.
Erm, if that really WAS the last edition then I’m glad I reached because you had to be there to REALLY get a feel of energy. The one thing I can say after peeping some of the clips from the previous events is that the vibes, love and talent was consistent throughout.
Etta took to the mic at 23:10 to start the show. People filtered from the upstairs lounge area to join the skankers downstairs and the sense of anticipation by this point was bubbling! Etta introduced her friend of 8 years – Cas Jones. He kicked off with I Never Speak Much, a mellow freestyle that eased the crowd into his sound with catchy lines such as “smell it in the air as I walk by!” which was fitting as various people in the room sipped and smoked freely. The next track, (which I don’t know the title of) was about energy – “I need more energy, two bottles of Hennessy, f**k you and your enemies, I’ll make you remember me!”. By this point the energy had lifted again and the crowd began to bounce and continue to vibe to Cas’ 3rd song Don’t Play With.
Now the last track… Yooooo! The last track got WHEELED! Apparently, Etta ran from the back of the crowd to the front lol I’m guessing that was her choon! Love that! Be Easy definitely had the waviest vibe and everyone was bopping! It is also Cas’ latest release so it made sense as to why he saved that particular track til last. He wrapped up his set but the DJ decided to pull up the last track 1 last time – c’mon! For anyone wanting to check out Cas Jones, he has a new tape out soon titled Sovereign.
First guest act done. Baaaack to the skankin! The DJ’s decided to mad everyone with a little more garage before dropping in a few Afrobeats and Bashment. 00:25am. Etta touched mic once more and expressed, “I’m excited to perform, this place feels like me!”. Oh mad! I thought she was about to bring on her next guest! Nah, clearly there were no rules and it was her time to shine. Not that anyone complained. She didn’t state the title of her first song but it had a futuristic tone with a skippy drum beat and heavy bass line. I do my research cos the choon was Loophole from her album Meds.
After the first song she went on to briefly speak on the very popular #SurfaceChallenge that came about after she dropped Surface (ft A2) a couple weeks ago. Absolute sauce! Easily one of her best songs yet! Etta expressed how happy she was to be involved in people opening up by taking part in the challenge and showcasing their talents. Upon reflection of the challenge she came to the realisation that she “made the right decision to write and sing”. She gave a warm, heartfelt shoutout, “Art has no limits – do you know who made me think of that? Kojey Radical! You don’t know bout Kojey yet!”, before blessing us with one of my favourite Etta songs Feels Like – EFFIN CHOON!
By this point I had zoned out and was in my element. If anyone in the crowd was doing grown ‘n’ sexy, I didn’t even notice because I was floating around somewhere in my mind. Etta was definitely in her zone too, eyes closed, storytelling, dripping sexy vibes all around the room. She followed up with another favourite of mine Bad 4 Me. A few deep tokes on her cigarette and she was back in her zone as she sang yet another soulful story. Sexy time was lightened up with Seen and Never Heard (ft Chris Loco) and then it was time.
When I tell you the crowd was begging for Surface from the second Etta touched mic. Literally, throughout her set I could hear voices from all around me requesting this choon! I mean after the wave of vibes thanks to the challenge I can understand that that is exactly what a large chunk of the audience had come to hear live and direct. What the crowd didn’t know was that Etta had saved the best til last. In every sense. It was her last song of her set as well as her last edition, so why not do something a little special? One of the #SurfaceChallenge contestants had been chosen to perform with her and I don’t think anyone expected the sheer epic talent that was 4Stringsz. Now from his name, you may have guessed that he is indeed a musician. A violinist to be exact. Etta sang, 4Stringsz played where A2 would have rapped had he of been there and wow just wow!
I challenge anyone that was there that night to tell me that they didn’t drift away in their thoughts and catch feels because of that dope S shaped black violin! Ugh! It was a stunning collaboration and unexpected… and in my opinion well deserved. Hats off to all the rappers, poets and singers that took part in the challenge – 100%… but you can’t deny there was something oh so beautiful about that violin.
And just like that, Etta disappeared into the crowd once more and mingled, vibed, smoked and spread love and positive energy. She also let everyone know there were “ettables” going around. I’ll leave that to your imaginations! I’d heard rumours that Avelino was a special guest but by 2:30am I was fading fast and crawling outside and into an Uber, leaving everyone inside to enjoy until 4am. I won’t forget the energy of that night in a hurry. The talent was on point. Etta is a legend. If there are any more editions in future I encourage you to find yourself there and I encourage you to let me know too! I aint trying to miss out!
Once you have experienced what is underneath the surface, it’s clear the real world is nowhere near as free and unapologetic.
Stream/Download Etta Bond’s Surface across all digital platforms here.
Written by Chellz