Spotify Wrapped live in London: A Top Of The Pops-style end-of-year celebration at IKEA-turned-superclub Drumsheds
From everyone’s Instagram Stories to the main stage – which was probably put on everyone’s Instagram Stories again.
Spotify Wrapped Live, Chase & Status. Image: Press
Since its arrival almost a decade ago, Spotify’s ingenious digital marketing tool Wrapped has grown from a platform for stans to prove their dedication to a cultural moment in its own right.
However, until this year’s edition, the meme-spawning phenomenon – whose new-for-2023 highlights include an AI DJ and video messages from artists for their top fans – has remained a virtual affair. Yes, it’s dominating Instagram stories and rightfully sparking discussions on fairer artist pay and shady data collection, but there’s not yet been a physical manifestation to match the frenzy on socials.
That all changed last night (30 November), however, as the debut Spotify Wrapped live show brought a handful of the year’s biggest breakthrough artists (and some well-established names) to Tottenham’s IKEA-turned-superclub, Drumsheds.
Live-streamed so that those not lucky enough to bag a ticket could still watch, albeit from the comfort of their homes, the choice to broadcast the first Wrapped on TikTok made perfect sense – especially because many of the songs performed throughout the show first went viral on the platform.
The lineup skewed towards 2023’s most popular genres (d’n’b, rap, pop and Afrobeat) and felt like an edgier counterpart to next weekend’s comparatively-commercial Capital FM Jingle Bell Ball at London’s O2 Arena. With the Wrapped hosts, social media favourites Harriet Rose, Big Zuu and Max Balegde, mingling among the crowd on the dancefloor and chatting to celebrity special guests including Louis Theroux, it also felt like a throwback to Top Of The Pops.
Kicking the night off with a vocally and visually impressive performance of their number one hit Unholy, Sam Smith took to a square stage in the middle of the crowd and was joined by a troupe of suited men inside what looked like a box made out of neon lasers. On the same stage, chart-topping MusicTech cover star Kenya Grace brought her d’n’b-pop hit Strangers to vibrant life in front of pink strobes; Libianca glowed in a ruffled golden dress while delivering the strongest vocal of the night with her track People; and Charli XCX raced through a UK-exclusive live rendition of her huge Barbie-soundtracking hit Speed Drive.
Towards the end of the show, the action moved to the huge main stage as London rapper Strandz and a group of dancers worked the runway for Us Against The World, before Chase & Status closed proceedings with their bass-heavy top-five smash Baddadan. Considering d’n’b’s mainstream renaissance this year, scheduling the latter as the finalé made a real statement.
Overall, the pacing of the night’s individual sets felt a little rushed and the general consensus on the train home concluded that there was too much filler chat between acts. Nonetheless, it was undoubtedly a fun way for fans (and industry types) to catch a glimpse of some huge names in quick succession.
While the sprightly show may have only lasted for just over an hour, with each performer allocated just one song, the first Wrapped delivered on its aim: to present a concise yet sonically-diverse snapshot of the year’s most popular music trends. If Wrapped Live is to become an annual event, we’d like to see more focus on the music next time.
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