LIVE: grandson / JUDAS @ Electrowerkz, London

By Yasmin Brown

As support act JUDAS played the last notes of their final song of the night, no one could evade the stench of sweat that filled the tiny venue. The band had put on an opening performance to be proud of, successfully amping up the crowd and having us dripping long before main act grandson (aka Jordan Benjamin) took to the cramped stage.

This particular performance was a once in a lifetime experience, with it being grandson’s first ever London show ahead of his support slot with Rat Boy the following evening. Not only that, but with his hard-hitting, politically charged lyrics and tantalising stage presence, there’s very little chance that he’ll ever return to perform in such an intimate venue as he’s sure to grow in popularity- and with new music imminent, we’re unlikely to hear unreleased tracks such as ‘Medicine’ played live again any time soon. 

Benjamin demands to be heard and is fearless with his message, creating an atmosphere that feels fearless, too. This evening’s theme, he declared, was ‘power’, and throughout the night he preached to more than willing ears about how we can regain power in a world where it is so often taken from us. With just that one statement, grandson had formed a safe place for everyone in attendance – a diverse group of people that all had one thing in common: a desire to live in a world that thrives on peace and equality.

The show was driven by this concept. It was a rock show, no doubt – as the lack of barricade did nothing to deter the crowd surfers and actively encouraged stage divers – but it was a rock show with a real purpose. From front to back, bodies rammed together as they jumped in unison, arms in the air, screaming the lyrics until their voices were too hoarse to scream anymore. The hour long set was brimming with passion, with both artist and audience feeding off each other’s energy, desperate to use whatever influence they have to make a change.

That said, in between dark themes such as in ‘Stick Up’, which addresses the government’s contribution to shootings in the US, ‘Thoughts and Prayers’, which acknowledges the futility of hashtag culture, and ‘6:00’ – a nod to the number of deaths caused by police brutality – Benjamin brought humour too. As someone towards the front of the crowd yelled, “Welcome to London!”, his response of, “I expected you guys to be dickheads but she’s nice!” was met with a wave of giggles that filled the room.

Fleeting as these moments were, they broke up more intense monologues that recognised the pain that many of us walk through life with on our shoulders, before addressing the detrimental effects that drugs have on your life (“That shit leaves you with more problems than you had to begin with”) as a preface to ‘Overdose’. The easy-going respites allowed for us to see through Benjamin’s live persona, as he grinned, clearly in awe of the sight in front of him.

The last few minutes were a blur of bodies flailing around to ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ and the evening’s closing performance of grandson’s biggest hit to date, ‘Blood // Water’, with the only breather coming when Benjamin showed his pure gratitude with a heartfelt, “Thank you for changing my life”. Coming from a man who has made it his mission to raise awareness of the issues the world is currently facing, it is perhaps us who should be thanking him. With incredibly songwriting abilities, an empathetic nature, and a stage presence that rivals any frontman today, he’s sure to change some lives himself.