– Gorilla, Manchester –

Channel Tres

Channel Tres

How on earth is someone this effortlessly cool? Dressed in a white vest with ripped off sleeves, dripping in pearls, Channel Tres is elevated above the audience and his two dancers on a podium on stage, oozing nonchalant chic, and it’s magnetic. Here to support his latest EP Real Cultural Shit, Tres blows away the Tuesday night cobwebs with a thrilling performance of bouncy Chicago house rap, guaranteed to lift up even the most pessimistic of people in the audience. On surely one of the smaller stages he will perform on going forward, not since Self Esteem’s early shows have I seen an artist do so much with such little on-stage resource, an arena ready performance on the budget of a high school show.

Tres is flanked throughout the night by two male dancers, all three of them clad in white and wearing sunglasses, and they frequently join forces to strut across the stage in ballroom-esque coordinated dance moves, inspiring the young crowd into hands-in-the-air euphoria. Even when he’s slightly grumpy with us, such as during new track ‘Big Time’ where he chastises us with ‘you motherfuckers better learn the lyrics by the next time I come round’, he does it in such a charming manner that you can’t help but think you should go home and study the words to please him. The atmosphere is set to ‘party’ from the off, and the four-to-the-floor beats don’t relent until he leaves the stage after the encore. We get all of the new EP, including a huge ‘6am’ in the encore, the lyrics ‘we ain’t leaving, hell naw, we ain’t leaving, til 6 in the morning’ almost a threat to the curfew of Gorilla – I reckon the vast majority of the crowd here would stage a dance-in til 6am in the company of Tres if he really wanted to incite it. Early singles like ‘Sexy Black Timberlake’, ‘Black Moses’, and ‘Brilliant N***a’ still sound massive and sexy as, particularly the louche bounce of ‘Black Moses’ which slaps despite its relative minimalism compared to some of the higher-energy cuts.

But this is all about the high NRG. It does take the audience a couple of tracks to fully get involved, but with the help of Tres and his exceptional dancers cheerleading, every big chorus, every drop, is greeted with a mass of whoops and hands in the air that doesn’t let up. It’s easy to see why, as it’s impossible to stand still to the bouncy groove. By the time it gets to set closer ‘Topdown’, we’re putty in their hands, moving to the hypnotic beats, features set to extreme smiley face, feet in perpetual motion, hands firmly above our heads. It’s an absolute mystery as to why Channel Tres isn’t massive. He’s featured on huge tracks from the likes of Disclosure, Flight Facilities and SG Lewis, and has the pick of the best rappers around on his own tracks (JPEGMAFIA, Tyler, the Creator), his sound is made for main stage summer festival slots and daytime youth radio. Something isn’t quite translating to a wider audience, and it’s hard to say why. Get this man and his dancers a big stage, and watch him absolutely soar.

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