Scarlxrd at SWX, September 27

Marius Listhrop, or more commonly known by his artist name Scarlxrd, burst onto the scene in 2017 with songs such as ‘King, Scar', ‘Heart Attack' and has gone on to release a staggering 11 projects in the last 3 years, an impressive work rate. They were characterized by heavily distorted melodies and 808 basses accompanied by a fast delivery and death metal style screaming. It left many wondering who he is and what to call his style. In fact, Listhrop had gained mild fame years earlier as a relatively innocent youtuber and subsequently, in a nu-metal band called Myth City, this all seems very much detached from his persona nowadays. He grew up on a mix of rap and nu-metal which all feed into his style which he characterizes as “trap-metal”. Influence comes from Eminem, Slipknot and the late xxxtentacion. He paid tribute to the latter by coming out on stage accompanied by his 2017 cut ‘Look At Me!' Making music out of an isolated house on the coast, not much is really known about him in recent times. But one thing is certain, there is no one else making this kind of music on this level to this size of a fan base.

His fame is perhaps even more mysterious than his personality. Despite his music garnering millions of views online, he is very far from a household name in British rap. This can probably be attributed to the fact his style is so different from the basement/afrobeat and grime artists that are dominating the scene right now. You would be hard pressed to find a casual Scarlxrd fan. His fan base is niche but extremely dedicated. Despite this, it is still extremely diverse; the crowd ranged from those who look right at home in a mental rave to those who you would more expect to see heading down to Lounge for sports night. The only common denominator was being hair drenched in sweat from mosh pits. Despite everyone's differences, there was a clear respect between the fans; if someone was to fall down in the mosh pit they would be promptly picked back up by those around them, rather than being trampled on.

The commitment of his fan base was reflected in their energy at the show. Every song started with the crowd completely split down the middle, crashing together at the drop every time. There was a clear mutual respect between artist and fans both showing a great appreciation for each other's role. With Scarlxrd remarking: "I'll remember this night when I'm 80." In a time where so many artists suffer from isolation, it is always nice to see an artist feel appreciated.

However, the energy of the show was driven mainly by the DJ who played the full track including the pre-recorded vocals and even joined the mosh for a few songs. If we were to look at Scarlxrds performance from a technical viewpoint it would be well below par, only joining in the backing tracks for small portions of the songs, mostly just performing the screams. This was a shame in a way as when he raps he showed a good technical ability to get his bars out at a very fast pace. In addition, his technical ability to execute screams at multiple cadences is no mean feat and is to be commended.

Using a backing track with vocals is an increasing trend in rap especially with the rise of ‘Soundcloud Rappers' with whom Scarlxrd is often associated. This method provides a relentless and irresistible energy to the performance, and that is what the crowds want at shows of this nature. The hard-hitting drums and 808's shook the room surrounding you in sound you couldn't help but start moving too. So, whilst traditionalists of hip-hop may turn their nose up at the idea of a backing track when it provides that level of energy for the crowd enjoys, I for one am here for it.