Skepta shows that going phone free can bring ravers so much closer

The rapper's secret Manchester International Festival event DYSTOPIA987 went electronic device free in a trailblazing move.

Henry Lewis

Date published: 20th Jul 2019

The contents of Skepta's Manchester International Festival creation 'DYSTOPIA987' was kept completely secret by the man himself, other than an explanation that he was given the opportunity to create his own world for a three night showcase that was designed to promote human interaction through what is described as "Dambrin_IRS (Intelligent Rave Software)".

A secret venue was touted, plus a live set and a wholly immersive experience, leaving you at the hands of Skepta - which creatied a feeling of nervous, but exciting anxiety rarely felt before your standard gig or rave.

For those with a ticket to DYSTOPIA987, cryptic emails were received in the build up to the event, with various instructions of where to meet, to "come dressed for a rave" and a plea of: "Do not be afraid about being with other humans. We know it’s been some time."

As well as the above, the pre show instructions also had a section that said "To enable a real time, in-the-moment experience, our night will be PHONE-FREE. Mobile phones, smart watches, smart accessories, cameras or recording devices will be secured in lightweight Yondr cases until the end", with anyone breaking this rule being escorted out of the event.



As well as ensuring the secrecy of what happened at DYSTOPIA 987, the ruling helped Skepta succeed in what he set out to do in creating an atmosphere that maximised human enjoyment, interaction and a connection with the music - a moment that is definitely forgotten about when rushing into your bag or pocket to retrieve your mobile, before living the gig or particular track behind a screen.

It feels like only a matter of time until this practise becomes much more common at live music events, with artists such as Tool and Jack White speaking up in the past on how they feel mobiles detract from performances , with White in fact also taking out the same procedure as Skepta has, in using tech firm Yondr's pouches to ensure phones remain hidden.

In Manchester on Thursday night, and no doubt across the two other Skepa MIF events, it most definitely worked, and the first time experiencing a phone free gig was certainly a good one. The entire crowd seemed to posses a different kind of energy, no doubt partly down the build up of the whole night but also from only having one thing to worry about; the performance.

Be it writing, producing or performing Skepta is one of the UK music scene's finest modern day trailblazers, with an artistic talent that goes way beyond the mic, he's a master at drawing all walks of life together - and DYSTOPIA987 proved that.