I’m not sure how you picture an exchange, if you’ve never been on one. I’m not even sure that I had a picture in my mind when I upped and left Auckland at the end of last year. The Exchange Office’s propaganda promised “international experiences” and “new friends;” and the walls in their office were crowded with pictures of people in exotic locales smiling maniacally for the camera.
At the final meeting there were murmurings that things mightn’t all be roses and sunshine, and that we should prepare for “culture shock” – but I paid them little heed. I’d been overseas before and knew what was to come, more or less: crazy nights, hot girls and little responsibility getting in the way.
Some of my best memories of Europe will be the gigs that I have been lucky enough to go to. This trend continued last night at Ekko, where I was blown away by the ferocity of Gonjasufi’s psychedelic hip hop.
Ekko is a great little venue not far from the centre of Utrecht. An open bar and collection of tables fill out the spacious room, with bright graffiti bringing a modern edge to this converted house. Beyond the bar is a door through to the dark stage, and as we arrive people are shuffling in.
I don’t know much about Gonjasufi: He is a yoga teacher (no idea how I know this-but wiki confirms it…); I have his first album; and am aware of his loose affiliations with Flying Lotus and the other members of the Low End Theory. This is certainly enough to get me in the door but as we stand nodding to the opening act I realise that I’m not actually sure what he looks like.
The stupidly early start-time of half-nine and Gonjasufi’s haunting vocals suggested it was going to be a fairly languid set and we had medicated accordingly. Was this guy playing now who we had come to see? He certainly looked alternative enough, with one dread hanging down the front of his face and rest of his head shaved to shiny black. Perhaps Gonjasufi had shaved his famous dreads off?