China Bowls // Live Review & Photoset

15th April | Louisiana

Photos: Jess Greenwood

When you head to a gig at a venue like The Louisiana to discover new artists, you generally hope for a couple of pleasing ones. If you hit the jackpot you’ll catch someone you’d really like to see again. Punch Records’ Welcome To My City Tour headlined by Bristol’s China Bowls this week was different, though. The line-up was crammed with five talented artists from across the country. I’m expecting to see at least a few of them make a plush little name for themselves within their genres.

At 8.30, the venue was still fairly quiet, but Fred Fredas from London hustled hard to pick up the slightly stale energy in the room. He versed over trip-hop, trap-beat love stories, chasing dreams and working the grind. These might not be fresh topics to our ears, but they still hold a worthy place on stage. When he surrendered to his “heavy” track, tackling race and gender and praising the queens in his life, I respected his journey and the valuable people he surrounds himself with regardless of his struggles.

Chesqua played a stripped-back set, with an acoustic guitar accompanying her. Her bubbly Mancunian personality shone through in her songwriting, as well as her ability to chat away to us with ease. She sang some lush low notes and sent be back to my TLC days. The shortness of the support sets left me wanting a whole load more; I bet she packs a punch with a full band.

The night stepped up a few gears when Birmingham’s Vital rocked onto the stage. On a wave from some cider, he joked at his smooth radio voice, but it was far more impressive when he performed his tracks. His dabble in dancehall hollered in summer carnival feels whilst he ended his set on a darker grime note. He already seems capable of commanding an audience of thousands, from catching us in his call and response net, to vibin’ low to his beats across the stage.

Branching down from Hull was Chiedu Osaka joined by Deezkid, his hype man and beat-maker. A set flawless in power, stamina and flare, this pair bounced off each other like two kids on a seesaw. His Yorkshire accent burned a welcome hole through his rap over his grime-come-hip-hop-come-garage beats. His humour had me giggling the way Kurupt FM does, and there was no disagreeing when he hailed, “Man’s feeling like Mr Motivator.” He will be storming his way to the top in no time. Look out for Chiedu.

China Bowls had hosted the night, but showed no signs of fatigue when she delved into her set to top off the night. She is our very own Nai Palm, combining neo-soul, jazz and hip-hop and accompanying herself on electric guitar. Percussive on guitar, her vocals jumped in and out of head voice effortlessly, guiding me along her touching lyrics. Joined by vocalist Holysseus Fly halfway through her set, the pair’s harmonies soared together, gracefully snapping at my willing attention. ‘The Way’ is a song I regularly discover trapped in my mind, so to see the two sing it with such poise and precision was a moment that will be trapped in my heart. I hit the jackpot.

See the video for ‘The Way’ here: