Written and Captured By | Morris Shamah
Hak Baker and the MisFits – as his fans call themselves – completely owned the legendary Koko on a unforgettable Friday night. Hak masterfully struck a balance between singer-songwriter honesty, folk-punk political commentary, and a good old-fashioned London rave up. Hak’s MisFits have coined the term “G-Folk” to describe his unique take on music, but live, “G-Punk” is probably a better moniker. When listening to Hak on record, (and if you’re not, you should,) you might find yourself lost in the richly textured world he spins in his lyrics. Live, Hak and his band bring that to life in the form of a mammoth street party, complete with funky basslines, majestic trumpet solos, righteous lead guitar, and thundering drums.
Before the main event, South West London’s Giya and Sasha Keable opened the show – each of them playing thirty minutes. Giya, a singer-songwriter whose heavenly vocals carried strength and gravity, introduced every song with a poignant story, and was then seen on stage as the bassist in Hak’s backing band. Sasha matched her own soulful melodies with a glass of straight rum in her hand, encouraging all to join her in the festivities.
See more photos of Giya HERE
See more photos of Sasha Keable HERE
By the time Hak took the stage, the 1,410 capacity theatre was completely full, the crowd spilling out into the stairwells and onto the smoking terrace. In front were the young Londoners, those who had waited for days to ride the rail for the next 90 minutes. Up in the balconies you could find the old guard of music fan who’d come to see the future, vying for space among the late-arriving party crowds dancing on the stairs.
Hak opened strong with a one-two of DOOLALLY and Bricks In The Wall from his excellent debut album, “World’s End FM,” and despite having been released only in June of this year, the audience knew every word. The show was heavy on “World’s End FM” material, with every song on that album represented over the 24 song set, with the odd song from his earlier EPs peppered here and there.
See more photos of Hak Baker HERE
Throughout the show, Hak consistently whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Call and responses of “Oi oi!” bellowed through the hall every ten minutes. Mosh pits swirled while crowd-surfers erupted over their heads. Hak connected with his faithful, making sure to match their energy at every point. He even restarted the blistering Telephones 4 Eyes at a (slightly) slower pace to give his fans the chance to sing along.
There was no shortage of guests, either. Hak brought out Connie Constance for a bit of poetry, Celeste for a beautiful back and forth duet on Pet Shop Boys’ West End Girls, and his brother Zeke for the heartwarming and heartbreaking Brotherhood.
Stage antics and party times aside, Hak also found the space for a bit of social commentary on gentrification and police brutality – that’s in addition to the commentary inherent in his lyrics (also present on stage – a stagehand dressed like a baton-wielding copper.) Ever the modern rockstar, Hak took the time to inspire the audience to follow their passions no matter the cost. “Go poor doing it!” he roared, to raucous cheer.
It was an hour and a half of mayhem, the kind not seen at any folk concert I’ve ever heard of. Make no mistake, live, Hak performs at the altar of the church of punk – emphasizing the moment over anything else, chasing and directing the energy of the crowd, wherever it may lead. Hak makes it look easy and natural, but this is a professional crowdsmith here to deliver a glorious escape from the mundane. A deft lyricist, a fantastic songwriter, a hell of a guitar player, and a truly spectacular showman, Hak Baker, king of the street scene, reigns tall on stage.
After the 7AM encore and final bows, Hak refused to leave the stage. He opted instead to initiate a massive dance to the walk-off music, jumping over the rail into the crowd. Lost in the storm on the floor, Hak reemerges, victorious, crowd-surfing over the waves of MisFits back to his stage. Joe Strummer would have been proud.
Photos By | Morris Shamah