In a special edition of ‘More Than A Record’, our Founder Freddie Cocker writes about Ekkah’s performance at Notting Hill Arts Club this Easter weekend and the effect that music can have on your mental health.
Given the amount of music concerts I go to a year, it would take a lot for me to write an entire article for Vent about one particular performance. However, on April 19th 2019, one band managed to provoke one out of me and it was for a very special reason.
I first got into Ekkah when they released their single ‘Last Chance to Dance’ in 2014. I was in my second year of my University Degree at the time and the lyrics embodied what dancing and club culture gave to me; love, enjoyment, self-expression and a head-strong desire to have just one final dance on the dance-floor, even when your friends have left the club or are too tired to join you.
Since then, I’ve been dying to get a glimpse of their live performances and Friday delivered on my expectations and then some. In a veritable sweatbox of a venue at Notting Hill Arts Club in West London on a hot Easter Weekend evening, as soon as Rebecca Wilson and Rebecca Pennington, (their mirrored first-names forming the inspiration behind the synergised stage name ‘Ekkah’) took to the stage, people in the crowd (including me) were already beginning to sweat.
What followed was one of the best, feel-good performances I have seen in many years. Despite the heat and close proximity of every dancer to each other, the crowd did their part and responded to every track Ekkah played, with football-style chants of ‘Ekkah! Ekkah! Ekkah!” at various points of the night.
It’s hard to nail down Ekkah’s unique sound to a defined genre. As a result, I generally describe them and a few other similar artists I listen to as just ‘boogie’ and they fit the description in every sense of the word.
What made this night so special however, was one final moment during Ekkah’s encore which moved me to tears, such was the pure, unadulterated emotion it evoked from me . Despite my sometimes encyclopaedic, sometimes obsessive thirst for knowledge for a plethora of music genres, from pop-punk, to garage, house, dance-hall, reggae-ton, bedroom indie, future-funk, afro-swing to hip-hop, the one genre which ALWAYS affects me in the most meaningful way on the dance-floor is Disco.
I’m pretty chuffed with the record collection I have from that era and my top 5 favourite ‘Disco Queens’ seems to change on a weekly basis. One week, Chaka Khan will rise to the top, other weeks it might be Patti Labelle, Gayle Adams, Sylvester, Loletta Holloway, Donna Summer, Vicki Sue Robinson, Aretha Franklin, Grace Jones, Sharon Redd or The Pointer Sisters.
As for Disco Kings, that list is even more extensive and fluctuating (its currently got Teddy Pendergrass, Goldie Alexander and Ronn Matlock in it at the moment). However, it was one Disco Queen I haven’t mentioned here which Ekkah channelled to supreme perfection.
As the crowd wiped the sweat from every orifice in their body, the chants of ‘one more song’ grew to a cacophony. Ekkah duly obliged and most of us expected a rendition from one of their hits that they hadn’t played yet, like ‘Small Talk’ or ‘Can’t Give It Up’.
Instead, they shocked everyone in the room and turned me into an emotional wreck by playing one of my all-time favourite Disco records, ‘Love Come Down’ by Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King. It’s a record that holds such emotional reverence in my life and one which I’ve had a deep and emotional connection to ever since my love affair with Disco started over 8 years ago.
When artists I love perform records like this unexpectedly and with such clear love and veneration for them, it can take your mind to a euphoria you only get to experience a few times in your life.
As the shock began to subside and the pure elation followed, I realised that the horrible beads of sweat that were resting around my eyes were replaced by tears of pure joy, a moment that only music can elicit from me.
Gigs and club nights give me a release and haven of self-expression I cannot find anywhere else in modern life and Ekkah’s performance encapsulated that in every way, shape and form.
Friday night certainly felt like the start of something magical for Ekkah and I and Vent, certainly hope that’s the case.