There are certain events taking places in the city that make the venue glow with a vibe. Lyrix Organix at the Queen’s Head is one of them. Something about Lyrix is its setting in a pub with an elevated stage. Usually the reserve of pub bands, the last two Lyrix Organix we’ve been to transformed the Art Nouveau location into something truly… spiritual.
This Lyrix Organix was lighter on performers: Counting them in the literal sense it was three acts plus an opener, but in the true sense of unity, everyone teamed up with different musical combinations. Maybe the groups were smaller this time round? I can’t decide. Lack of sleep and migraine symptoms make memories seem fuzzy. Luckily there were enough highlights to keep track…
Rising Sun of Rising Styles fame opened procedings with some spoken word, a risqué rhyme on his observation of other people’s relationships followed by rap roll call of hip hop emcees who inspired him to start writing, warming up the microphone for J Leen and FLOetic Lara.
J Leen has forged himself a name in freestyle emceeing with his razor sharp rap and off-the-top-of-the-dome punchlines. While likely a formidable opponent to battle against, when solo his freestyle storytelling really steals the show. Considering he was improvising, Leen managed to maintain his flow to the syncopated instrumentals he was freestyling over while picking on people in the audience to use as subjects.
FLOetic Lara, the spoken word lyricist and vocalist who some readers may recognise as a Live Vibe regular, is also part of J Leen’s collective No Long Ting, and provided her powerful, soulful vocals to Leen’s freestyles.
While J Leen caught his breath FLOetic Lara took the mic, managing to fit in a full song and a poem before a final jam featuring the front man of Kaya (who incidentally can also beatbox).
Aya Marar might not be a name everyone instantly recognises (she toured with Calvin Harris), but when you hear her voice and watch her flirty hip swinging as her voice fills the room like no one’s watching her sing she’ll be one you’ll remember.
Visual distractions aside, anyone who performs an acoustic version Bobby Brown’s Don’t Be Cruel in a slightly seductive manner (see below) scores points in my book, and her voice is stronger than you might expect – there wasn’t much need for a microphone it was that strong.
Kaya was another group new brought to my attention, who were voted Radio 1 Band of the Year. Their sound consists of reggae, dub and ska with funk and soul. Emcee Aina even insisted people get up and skank like a band member of Madness.
It was a shame that a noise curfew order meant any drum heavy bands couldn’t play after 11pm (performances were running a little late, delayed slightly by technical and setting up the stage), but Kaya made sure not to disappear into silence before squeezing in a performance of their single Rat Race.
The consistency of entertainment made Lyrix tick all the boxes, and when reflecting upon who my favourite act was it is difficult putting one above the other. Once again it did a great job introducing new and undiscovered acts many might not have heard of, yet they still fall under the hip hop spectrum. Not just new acts, but the sort of acts you want to follow on their journey, untainted by fame and happy to be performing for small audiences.
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