- 22 May 23
Bringing his wildly popular Skala tour to Dublin's Button Factory on May 20th, the energy in the venue was off the charts for Songer's performance.
The Button Factory opened its doors to an energetic audience on Saturday night to welcome Reading rapper Songer, as part of the burgeoning 22-year old musician’s Skala album tour. Electric, exciting and upbeat; Songer was constantly engaged with the audience, who embraced hit after hit as Songer expertly straddled emotive lyricism with bombastic performance.
The gig was a cosy roughly 400-capacity warmup for all that is to come in the young rapper’s career, a bridge between past and future as he celebrates a relatively intimate album tour before moving to grander festival performances at Longitude and Reading & Leeds this summer.
Songer has become a growing rap industry force, with the latest release of his fourth album Skala receiving widespread commercial and critical success. The fearless young voice from UK rap’s underground scene regularly proves his dominance to fans with expert, high-speed lyrical flows throughout his live performances.
The rapper recently hit over 100 million streams on Spotify, has sold out headline tours and hit no.1 on the iTunes hip-hop charts with Skala, and is clearly poised to break into the mainstream UK rap scene soon.
The gig kicked off early with rappers Daneo and Mani DM alternating confident song performances. Daneo works alongside Songer in Hard Reality, a music collective and content umbrella the two talents independently created consisting of music videos, podcasts, short films and interviews. The two have collaborated on many songs together, and Daneo clearly shows the two share equal passion for creating hard-hitting, crowd-pleasing tunes.
Mani DM, another 22-year-old UK rapper bursting with energy and talent, featured in 'Ease the Pain' on Songer's latest album Skala, a quick, hard-hitting song that puts the two performers' lyrical skills and passion on full display.
The two made light work of warming up the incoming crowd, with the duo possessing the swagger and confidence of veteran rap duos such as Run the Jewels or Mobb Deep.
As the rappers alternated performing songs, the other would hype up both their fellow performer and the audience, bringing the energy of a packed gig to the hundred or so early entrants. Of particular note was Mani DM's hit 'Faro', a song that nobody in the crowd could avoid jumping to as strobe lights illuminated the venue.
Following the stellar introduction, Ballymun outfit Bricknasty entered to thunderous noise from the growing crowd. The band, which emerged in 2020 as a lockdown studio project, has developed into a group with purely infectious vigour that has mastered their own smooth, soulful chords.
Singer and lead guitarist Fatboy began by excusing the band's late start, stating that he had been "Working at Homebase, big up Homebase!" Fatboy's stage presence was beautiful, displaying both his zany personality and charisma in perfect coexistence.
The band launched into their signature funk fun, with bassist Dara Abdurahman and drummer Korey Thomas proving the musicians are already masters of their crafts.
The group combined R&B, hip-hop and an anarchic musical approach in a short but very sweet 7-song performance, with their more recognisable hits 'PIMP' and 'Ducks Ina Row' getting regular audience singalongs. Bricknasty brought their signature Dublin groove to a British rap gig, and were crowd-pleasers till the end.
Stay tuned for their eagerly awaited debut EP Ina Crueler, which lands next month through FAMM (Maverick Sabre, Jorja Smith).
Fevered chants of “Songer!” swarmed over each other until the young rapper strode out under the spotlights. The glow from a hundred iPhones illuminated his frame, alone and unassumingly dressed in a black tshirt and green tracksuit along with a brimming bright white cap.
With the audience’s full attention and admiration, Songer paced around the cavernous stage like a lion in a cage, until bursts of strobe lights prompted Songer to start performing, beginning with the first track off his latest album, ‘Skala’.
While Songer effortlessly worked through the title track, casually explaining how "I've never seen my dog (Skala) waste a day in her life", he constantly engaged with his biggest fans up front, providing fist bumps and high fives, and vowing to take selfies later in the show with the many eager audience members offering their phones to the star.
"Let's have a beautiful night, Dublin," proclaimed Songer after finishing his first song, as thunderous applause greeted the rapper. "It's a pleasure to be back in here. I love this city." The rapper had been sick earlier that day, but had luckily found his voice and intended to push it to its limit.
Following the more mellow title track, Songer launched into 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun', a high-speed hit that displayed the rapper's talented musical abilities. Later tracks 'Sunrise' and 'Double Tops' also showed Songer's lyrical gifts to an audience eager to keep up but unable to truly track the rapid melodies.
Songer can go as hard, verbally, as the best road rappers or drillers, with lyrical flow so quick even seasoned fans can struggle to recite the lyrics alongside him. But Songer’s goal is advancement, self-reflection, and healing. His grandstanding is not just scattershot testosterone, but reasoned argument.
As the trumpets kicked in, fans in the crowd revealed themselves by excitedly screaming the name of the song before Songer had even began, 'That's Money'. The flamboyant, party-rich tune with its quickfire bars shows why he has caught the attention of tastemakers, and the rapper couldn't help but dance across the stage as he eagerly encouraged two-steps from the audience.
During a hyper rendition of his 2021 hit 'Carefree', a fun, football-focused tune with Latin-infused drill beats, Songer welcomed a fan with a Chelsea jersey up on stage, who unfortunately knew none of the words but served as a very successful hypeman for the audience throughout the song.
The proud Chelsea fan was a surprising sight on the eve where Manchester City were once again crowned winners of the Premier League, but league titles were forgotten as the fan revelled in the attention and love from Songer and the crowd.
At this stage, almost halfway through the gig, Songer barely needed to move from the mic stand to bring ecstatic energy to the stage. With a worshipping crowd who couldn't help but two-step to hard, fast beats and rapid lyrical flows, the energy was sensational.
What followed was a string of old a new hits, as Songer discussed writing his songs, hitting low points in his life, and the importance of communicating love for each other. These messages are staples for the Reading talent, as this is a rapper who examines himself as much as he eloquently critiques the systems that hold people back.
As Songer launched into 'Look At the Clouds', apparently his father's favourite song, Songer encouraged audience members to grab the person next to them, "and tell them you love them, it's so important". Following this, fans rose onto each others' shoulders as the rapper reached the chorus, "we ain't got time for another life, 'cause swear down right now I'm loving mine".
By this point, Songer had worked his way flawlessly through fan favourites 'No More Candles', '4:59' and 'Dream Workz', and had welcomed the staple Irish of 'Ole Ole Ole' with a freestyle over the fervent Irish fans. The rapper also treated listeners to renditions of his wildly popular Youtube Blackbox freestyles, including his popular mash up with a beat from Britney Spear's Toxic.
Songer invited Daneo and Mani DM back out on stage, with Mani immediately jumping into their collaboration song 'Ease the Pain'. Fervent chants of "LOUDER" from the guest brought the crowd's fever to an all-time high, as the 400 excited audience eagerly pushed as close as possible to the stage, arms outstretched. This was followed by 'Soft Spot', a song featuring Daneo in which there was effortless flow between himself and Songer.
The arrival of Daneo and Mani DM brought new life to the crowd late into the performance, as hard strobe lights, hands held high and cups half-full of beer were all thrown to the ceiling, bringing the energy from a sold-out stadium gig to the smaller venue.
The sweaty, beer-drenched crowd soaked in every moment of 'Big Stepper', 'Endlessly' and 'Orange', as Songer once again welded singalong choruses to intensive work on himself and others. "Your anxiety is lying to you, don't let your anxiety hijack your gut feeling" Songer told a rather emotional audience, as his show began to come to a close.
'What's Offline' saw a second fan climb to the stage, with Songer encouraging him to cover some of the catchy hit as the crowd bounced along. Following a chant of "SONGER", the rapper was ready to start his last song, after proclaiming "I love this city, it's full of such beautiful people".
Songer entered the crowd as he began his final song of the evening, 'Fabregas Freestyle', as he revelled with the adoration of his young, rabid fans. Songer easily worked through his popular 2020 hit lyrics, proudly proclaiming "name a better rapper than me, bitch where?"
The rapper's final song revealed some doubts from Songer, with him admitting "I'm thinking all the time about my legacy and how people remember me". Despite his uncertainty in the song, fans already know that this Button Factory gig is a perfect example of how the already iconic rapper will be looked back upon - a rising artist talented beyond his years, certain to dominate the future.
Listen to Songer's latest album, Skala, below.