Y Plas, Cardiff University Students Union, Fri 30 Mar
Astroid Boys headlining Y Plas feels like it’s long overdue. The four Cardiff lads (and one from Newport) are no strangers to the venue, having played here countless times as support acts for Wiley, AJ Tracey, and the few other grime artists that dare to tour on this side of the River Severn.
During their acceptance speech at the previous night’s Cardiff Music Awards, where 2017’s Broke won the best album category, frontmen Benji and Traxx pointed out that the city’s urban music scene is often overlooked – and they’d know best, they’ve all but built it themselves. To play their biggest ever headline show here on the last date of their debut album tour thus feels more than just fitting; it’s a triumphant victory lap and a middle finger rolled into one.
Perhaps appropriately, the support lineup is a rather long roll call of friends and collaborators, most of whom have shared much smaller and sweatier stages with the boys. Grangetown’s Sonny Double 1 proves himself to be a commanding presence with a gift for crowd control, while grime veteran and longtime Astroid Boys friend Manga Saint Hilaire brings more technical flows. Daniel OG’s set is a short but sweet affair that bounces along with way more swagger than any man in a zip-up wolf print coat should be allowed to pull off.
As for the main event, the blend of intimacy and chaos that has earned Astroid Boys so many diehard fans hasn’t been diminished by the upgrade to a larger venue. Benji snaps selfies on fans’ phones, Traxx screams the finale of Dusted into a punter’s face, and the duo perform Ghost in the centre of the ecstatic crowd. There’s a controlled turbulence to their performance that would collapse in lesser hands, a deliberate hurricane that leaves the stage strewn in beer, sweat, and ladies’ underwear. It’s messy, brutal, but also brilliant.
“Looks like we got a little carried away,” Benji says with a grin as the curfew shudders the night to a halt. The moshpit dissipates with more than one fan smiling through a nosebleed. The band stride offstage, their status as hometown heroes firmly cemented. Something tells me that they won’t be away for long.
words and photos JASPER WILKINS