Words by Kristofer Thomas
“Class is in session,” Syd tha Kid exclaims to a lively Academy crowd.
The Internet, brainchild of Odd Future alumni Sydney Bennett and Matt Martians, pedal an infinitely smoother, more melodic branch of hip hop and RnB than their authority-baiting parent project, and are currently touring in support of their latest LP, Ego Death. A heady mix of groove-bathed soul, galloping free jazz basslines and Syd’s lovelorn verses, The Internet are seemingly leading a revival of the Erykah Badu and D’Angelo inspired strand of ‘neo-soul’ amongst a younger generation, and tonight successfully went some way to capture the spirit of these predecessors, though admittedly without the bite and edge.
The crowd is restless, the venue sweaty and support act Wolfie impresses with a combination of vocal gymnastics and genuine energy, although her relatively short set leaves much to the imagination. A short while later, The Internet take to the stage and the room fills out – their first two songs being cuts from the new album.
There’s dancing, there are lighters in the air and there’s a lot of people on Snapchat.
The problem with The Internet is that once you’ve heard the first half of the show, then you’ve essentially also heard the second. When their format of shimmering keys, improvised bass theatrics and Syd’s insistence of “hands in the air” is established, the music wanders dangerously close to something resembling tedium. However, the band’s showmanship and legitimate joy at being once again in the UK is endearing, and the mellow atmosphere they cultivate remains hard to fault.
Half the job of playing a gig is reading the tone of the room and being able to manipulate this to your advantage, and tonight The Internet were able to do this with flair and style. A bass solo rounds off the night and the Academy spills out into the street.
The gig took place on Friday 11th March 2016 at Manchester Academy 2.