Photo by Eric Tra
There was no show this weekend that was as unique, thought-provoking, or exciting as Kate Tempest. There’s no question. Sasquatch! was the UK rapper’s US festival debut. It was less of an introduction and more of a blasting down the doors with poetry and the grimiest of beats. As a celebrated poet, she opened her set with an a capella spoken verse. It set up a narrative of a character named Becky, who is the central focus of her debut album, Everybody Down. But Becky isn’t just some piece of fiction — she’s a relatable and amorphous entity struggling with identity and self-doubt. Then the band would come in with gripping synthesizer wobbles and booming electronic drums.
For a mid-afternoon set, she began to draw a sizable crowd from people passing by. At times, it was a dance party, but more often than not a moment to cry and be encouraged. Tempest herself seemed overwhelmed with the response. Her band beamed at her, taking pictures on their phone whenever she’d go into spoken word. “As long as you live for other people’s opinions/ You’ll never be more than afraid,” she repeated as people hollered. In the pit, people frequently covered their mouths in shock at what they were experiencing. This was a young artist with a message.
Kate Tempest is essential to catch as she continues her US tour. She has so much to say and is saying it beautifully.