It’s June 1st, 2019, it’s Bulgaria’s Children Day and everybody seems to be nostalgic and taking a contemplative look at their past that will never come back. Me on the other hand, with a bunch of trusted friends are in Milan for a show that we’ve been anticipating ever since for probably half a year now.
Few months ago, US hip-hop collective Gothboiclique (GBC) announced a Euro tour featuring Cold Hart, Yawns, Horse Head, Fish Narc, Mackned and Wicca Phase Springs Eternal. One could hardly hope for a more diverse selection of artists and there’s no way we could miss this. Sadly, around a week before we head to Milan, Wicca Phase Springs Eternal (who released one of the albums of the year and has been heavily touring the US the whole Spring) announced, due to mental health issues, he’s canceling his appearance on the Euro tour.
Usually, I find these last minute changes very upsetting but, honestly, it’s great to see everybody supporting Adam and his decision. If you are bummed Wicca was forced to cancel, imagine how hard it’s been for him to pull the plug on his participation in the tour. However, with five remaining artists I was more than convinced we’ll be treated a memorable show. Honestly, I couldn’t have been more right.
Having arrived a day earlier, we’ve managed to breathe a bit the local air before we dive into the crew’s signature take on what journalists that don’t want to try harder call emo rap. We show up at Circolo Ohibò minutes before the doors open.
First thing we notice is that the crowd doesn’t really look like a hip-hop crowd. Emo kids, goth kids, kids rocking Morbid Angel t-shirts, almost everybody’s dressed in black and the punk squad we are, we instantly feel at home no matter we’re thousands of kilometers away from our homeland. Second thing we notice is that again most of the audience is comprised of people at least ten years younger than us, some are with their parents, others are warming up for the show blasting music through bluetooth speakers. Yes, there’s an age gap between us, yes there’s a cultural gap between us; but we still manage to feel in the right place at the right time.
The venue opens its doors and a kid who’s rolled a massive blunt is among the first ones to enter. Minutes later, we see the kid collapse on the floor, badly hitting his head, probably having smoked too much of that, probably having done something else. Lately, we overhear he’s also traveled from abroad to see the show and we hope he managed. Being in a group of people where three of us are straight edge makes us think about this whole heavily drug-centered culture the kids and artists are having to deal with. We don’t judge, we only hope they all find their way through life.
Once we’re in, it doesn’t take too long before the show starts. The room slowly fills with people and by the end of the gig it’s pretty much crammed. Lights are shut, the GBC logo’s being projected on a white backdrop and Fish Narc, followed by Yawns hit the stage to warm up the audience with a bunch of tracks from the crew. He’s dancing, playing with the audience until he finally picks up a guitar and kickstarts a show that is actually hard to put in words. Besides a talented producer with a very specific style, heavily influenced by post-punk, indie, alternative and everything in between, Fish Narc is a great song-writer and performer. His solo tracks are absolute bangers, punk energy meets current day hip-hop production and the crowd gets absolutely wild right away. After him Horse Head jumps on stage to remind us all there’s more to this music than party. His music is emotional, melancholic but still gritty and raw. I look around and see everybody feeling each second of his first track for the night. Then Cold Hart and Mackned come in and the whole GBC crew for the night is assembled.
What follows is an avalanche of music, emotions and constant interaction with the audience. Not only are the artists pouring their hearts and souls in throwing a show to remember by dropping some of their top tracks and tons of new material but are taking good care of the kids in front of them. There’s so much happening on stage. Fish Narc and Yawns are taking turns on the guitar and behind the computer. Between singing his own tracks and doing backing vocals for his homies, Mackned is giving bottles of water to the people, signing autographs, taking photos with their phones and even exchanging messages with them with a constant smile. It’s the first time Gothboiclique are in Milan but it feels they are at home. Everybody’s taking turns, we don’t stay in the same mood for longer than a track. Fish Narc and Horse Head are dropping raw and energetic tracks, Cold Heart is melting our hearts with his beautifully pop-influenced slick tracks while Mackned makes sure we’re treated proper hip-hop bangers GBC-style. It’s a music vortex that climaxes with “Nick Cave In” & “Eyes” by Cold Hart & Yawns.
Towards the end of the gig Mackned asks for the lights to be switched off and we all know what will follow. Over an year ago Gothboiclique lost their friend and brother Gustav Elijah Åhr a.k.a Lil Peep, a key figure from the collective. As soon as the first tones of “Pictures 2”, Mackned’s collab with Peep and Lil Tracy I’m feeling crushed and still happy this is happening, this mixed bag of emotions reaches everybody around me. Horse Head takes the torch and delves into a heart-breaking performance of “Girls”, one of his tracks with Åhr. Everybody’s singing and we can feel the spirit of Lil Peep embracing us as we scream our lungs out. The night ends with a couple of Lil Peep tracks that the audience is left to sing and get wild to. Everybody sings along to “Witchblades”, “Absolute In Doubt” (with Wicca)… I see kids crying, hugging each other, being the living proof they are not here for the hype, they are not here for anything else but themselves and the love they have for the music of the people in front of them.
If you have forgotten what a punk show feels like I advise you to go and see Gothboiclique live.