At the start of 2010 I was 13 years old. I was just discovering music for myself for the first time. Emerging from under the wing of my sisters music taste and accidentally syncing 6 hours of ABBA and deleting everything else on my iPod shuffle. For myself and the other Pretend contributors the 2010s have been our decade, our entire self-directed experience of music has been shaped by this decade. So, we reflect on what were the moments that made our 2010s as they come to a close.
Chance the Rapper 02 Academy Brixton, 2016 – Alex
HEART. BEAT. RHYTHM. STREET. It wasn’t the first time we’d heard his cover of the track, yet in late 2016 as he led the audience into forming a beat with this chant, I was blissfully unaware that we were becoming backup singers to a Chance the Rapper and Donnie Trumpet led rendition of the Arthur theme song.
The Chicago native first covered Ziggy Marley’s incredibly wholesome original-turned-renowned-theme-tune ‘Believe in Yourself’ all the way back in 2014 (which can still be found under the name ‘Wonderful Everyday’ on SoundCloud). Fast-forward to 2016 and at the 02 Academy in Brixton this live, audience-supported take on the kids show theme tune was transformed with an even more upbeat and celebratory tone, making for a moment as charming and love-filled as the artist himself. The entire atmosphere of glee and unity that came with this smile-filled performance embodied everything Chance the Rapper has stood for as both an artist and personality.
The tune revelling in its own gorgeous cheesiness, interwoven seamlessly into an already joyous gig, it didn’t feel (excuse me) a beat out of place – making for a truly special moment in an altogether truly special set.
The Windmill Brixton – James
Without The Windmill I wouldn’t be writing this now.
It’s not a space I ever felt cool enough to go to when I was a teenager. To be honest I didn’t feel welcome. None of my friends at the time seemed interested and I was intimidated by the bands. I just wanted to be there. I wanted to find someone else out there who didn’t just want to listen to stadium bands and pop music.
It was rough. It was loud. It was sweaty. It was normal people making loud noises and not always in tune or in time.
I am not the person to tell the history of The Windmill but if you’re unaware of the space it’s got a history that rivals any other in the country. From the Vaccines to the Fat Whites to The Big Moon and Shame it’s been the centre of the South London Indie scene for as long as I have been aware that a scene existed. It also has a dog on the roof, a roof dog, if you will.
If I were to choose a moment where the idea of telling the stories of DIY artists really clicked for me, it would have been when I saw Cassels. I think in 2014… It wasn’t because I thought they were a good band, I just loved every single second of their set with all my heart. They were younger than me, shredding it to myself and maybe four other people around the room and it was great. At the time they had a song called Sea Sick and I can still remember the hook but they’ve taken it down so rather than dig out something they probably hate here’s a Hating Is Easy a year later.
For everything special and unique about the Windmill it has equals and potentially even betters in almost every town in the UK. From Wharf Chambers in Leeds and the Adelphi in Hull to the Boileroom in Guildford. If you want to get in touch with your music scene, find a spot and stick it out. You’ll see something that might change your life. Eventually.
Four Tet at Lost Village, 2018 – Louis
What defines a festival headline set? Is it the highlight that brings all those attending together, the centre of the Venn diagram that is the line up? Is it the pinnacle of the weekend, the biggest blow out that you will never forget, perhaps because you can’t remember? It is of course all that and more, and Four Tet’s set at Lost Village in 2018 was the very definition of what a headline set should be. I remember being there and the entire two hours just thinking ‘this is it, this is exactly what you want when you come to a festival’.
Opening in ambience with his classic angular tones, tracks ranged from Rihanna to Pearl Jam, from Destiny’s Child to Anthony Naples, and a particularly favourite transition of mine being M-Beat’s ‘Incredible’ into Ariana Grande’s ‘No Tears Left To Cry’. It was made even more special given that the crowd was really feeling it, and more than any other festival moment, I felt how happy we all were in unison. To top it off towards the end, the confetti cannon exploded during his remix of Bicep’s ‘Opal’, sealing the deal and marking the night as iconic.
The whole thing is available on Soundcloud and so it’s possible to relive it many times over (as I have), and Kieran has mentioned numerous times since that this was one of the most memorable sets of his career. A real ‘you should have been there’ moment
La Roux at Latitude 2015 – James
For me, this was the best festival performance of the decade. There’s no video so you can’t prove me wrong. Yes the Green Day secret set at Reading 2012 was beautiful. Steam Down at We Out Here in 2019 was great but… this set was something else. I can’t put my finger on what it was other than pure fun.
This wasn’t just a great set but it opened my eyes to a world of pop my male teenage self had decided to irrationally hate. Without this set Lorde’s Melodrama wouldn’t have hit the same way, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the irresistible rise of Lizzo this year. In a more indirect way, I also think it was the start of a move discovering more disco and electro influenced live acts and prepped me to enjoy dance music I was so against for such a long time.
Printworks – Alex
The next musical moment of the decade is Printworks. Which night? All of them. The whole thing. The building and its presumably hard-fought license and all. Printworks, simply for existing, gets its own moment. Okay, this one is a bit silly but bear with.
As much as the growing super-club industry can be contentious (the perhaps necessary evil of Warehouse Project’s exclusivity contracts which stop performers playing anywhere else between September and January, anyone?) and sometimes split audience opinion when it comes to reviews (ah Printworks, I love you and your utter hugeness, but most of all I love the often occurring games of ‘find-my-friends in the longest crowd in London’, and my personal favourite ‘hide-and-seek in the dark room’), there is one certain thing that even the mere existence of a frequent sell-out 6,000 capacity venue in the capital means: dance music is thriving*.
***yes, sure, the decade has not been without its problems for clubbing in the UK. In particular, there’s undoubtedly work to be done in protecting smaller and more underground spaces, many of which have the positive ethos of providing safe spaces for, in particular, people of colour and the LGTBQIA+ community – and furthermore for anyone and everyone to enjoy music, dancing and being themselves free of fear and judgement.
BUT, the huge success of these larger venues illuminates the fact that the audience for dance music is, if anything, growing. Nights at these large venues remain spectacular and going forward can, hopefully, only work to contribute to the scene and help it continue to flourish.
Scott Hutchison’s Death – James
Scott Hutchinson’s music and lyricism speak to everyone who has ever struggled with themselves. Frightened Rabbit were probably the formative band of my teenage years and I don’t know if I’ve yet processed the fact they will not be releasing more music.
Scott’s death was tragic but has led me to find more solace in communities like the AF Gang, to see the transformative power of communities based around music and the people who make it. I’ve often experienced music in an isolated way, it’s something that’s been difficult to share with others for some reason. Scott made it feel possible to share and to be alone.
“While I’m alive, I’ll make tiny changes to earth”
Lyrics from Heads Roll Off
Since his death Scott’s friends and family have set up the Tiny Changes Charity to inspire people all over the world into positive action on mental health among young people and to make tiny changes to Earth. Their website is here.