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17 Mar 2022

An Evening at the Horn

Ben Timi Nuga

Upon finishing my secondary education in St Albans back in 2017, I vowed to avoid frequenting the city unless absolutely necessary. I confess, with heavy heart, that I failed in this remit. ‘Ess-Tee-A’ has had me in a chokehold since the last drop of ink touched the last page of my final A-Level exam paper; a sad state of affairs unlikely to change in the short term. Now, I’m far from a seasoned navigator of the Verulamian streets, but I do know my way from St Albans Abbey station to St Albans City station on foot…without Google Maps! Coooool, right?

Anyway, to the matter at hand. In the last few metres of said walk, unless you take the scenic route, you pass The Horn pub. In the thousand odd times I’ve visited St Albans I’d never so much as stepped foot through the front gate of the place and would have comfortably gone another few thousand had it not been for something special drawing me in; enter rruaris and Euston.

I first came across the former a tad over a year ago, when he reached out to share support for my second track ‘BAYERN CELL’. Also a keen linguist, my use of German struck a chord with him and upon him telling me that he was also musically inclined himself, I had a scroll through his tracks and was not disappointed! His cleverly crafted bars and gentle delivery married with Euston’s vibrant production makes for a super-enjoyable listening experience, perhaps best demonstrated through their collaborative ‘Egocentric’ EP.

Having not been to a live musical performance for a while, I quickly exhausted all of my customary excuses for staying at home and made the personal pledge that I was going to go, if for no other reason than to ‘support my local’! I kept this personal promise and set off to the venue in my warm jacket and hat. Because it was cold outside. Camera in hand, to take photos. I arrived a tad nervous; I’d never taken any event photos before, and though I’m very much still a hobbyist, once people see you holding a camera, they expect photos. And they’d better not be crap. This aside, I was looking forward to their gig, a sentiment which only grew as the acts preceding them took the stage. The night was opened by Lozeak, whose diminutive frame housed a set of vocals which were anything but. Having not been familiar with her work before the night, it took but three notes for me to reach a verdict that she was the real deal. By her fifth note, my warm jacket and hat were off, because it was suddenly very warm inside. Lozeak had a new fan, and as it happened, I needed one. Fan…fan…geddit? Anyhow, she was good.

If I learned one thing about the venue, it’s that they stick to schedule, because no sooner had Lozeak vacated the stage than rapper Haz the Kid entered it. His set offered a stark contrast to his predecessor’s; whilst they were both brimming with energy, Haz the Kid’s was more ‘rhythmically-kicking-holes-in-your-friend’s-front-door-for-bants-but-in-a-measured-way-that-makes-him-wanna-join-in’ than ‘melodically-screaming-out-my-darkest-intrusive-thoughts-whilst-fully-clothed-in-a-cold-shower’. Both high praise, by the way. Haz’s 808 pulses alone brought tears to my eyes, which promptly dried up upon the sight of a random kid jumping on stage and drinking a random cocktail of random liquids from a DIFFERENT random kid’s shoe. Showbiz?

The rruaris x Euston set followed, and all things considered was the perfect way to close out the night. Incorporating an incredible live band, strong vocal performances and mosh-pit-friendly songs into their track list, there can’t have been a single member of the audience left wanting. Of course, that speaks to the strength of the duo’s discography, through which they guided us with the charm and poise of The Pied Piper, albeit far less outrageously dressed. A special mention goes to Emma Durkin and Asha Banks; two amazing singers whose added magic delicately tied the set together. I’m sure I speak for other members of the audience when I say that it was difficult to but marvel as they performed. The level of skill and stage-presence on show was top tier and considering most who took the stage were on the junior side of 20-years-old, I was shook. I’m still shook. There’s no doubt that we’ll be seeing and hearing more from them in years to come, so stay tuned, I guess! Or don’t! I’ve never been one to shy away from an ‘I told you so’.

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