Dublin Fringe Festival’s Clash at the Quays review

The Dublin Fringe Festival (DFF) is a fantastic opportunity for the creative minds in Ireland to display their prowess and ingenuity through various multidisciplinary exhibitions, performances, workshops and more.

One of the most unique performances I saw this year was the spectacle that is, Clash at the Quays.

The event, hosted by Karim Tamu, also known as ‘Ahmed, With Love’, took place in Dublin 7’s The Complex.

Ahmed, With Love at Clash at the Quays – Photo: Dray Morgan

‘Clash at the Quays’ was a hybrid event of hip hop and wrestling.

Music artists from Dublin took to the stage, which was in fact a wrestling ring, to perform, as well as getting3 their hands dirty with some rather impressive showmanship.

My initial reaction upon arrival at the venue was that the uniqueness of the setting was striking. The presence of the real and large wrestling ring in the centre of the room was most definitely a precursor to the chaos which would ensue. Complete with announcers, a commentary table, a media crew and real wrestlers, the show was by far one of the most immersive live music experiences I have ever been to.

First, we welcomed the ‘Fresh Boys’, an antagonistic duo of wrestlers, culturally opposite to the ethos of DFF.

In between puffs of their vapes, they put on an impressive display of wrestling against multiple teams of wrestlers.

Setting the tone for the evening, the crowd reciprocated hugely, with the energy in the room electric.

Fresh Boys at Clash of the Quays – Photo: Dray Morgan

Next, Dundalk-based neo-soul duo ‘Negro Impacto’ took to the stage.

Dressed in somewhat precarious IRA-esque uniforms and balaclavas, their music could not have opposed this aesthetic more. The smooth soundscapes were only interrupted at the end of their set when wrestlers once again entered the stage with the duo standing their ground.

Next up, the undead Julia Louise Knifefist, posing as a sort of undertaker-like character, his noise music paired perfectly with his outer image.

The heavy basslines and cacophonous expressionism was only stopped halfway through the set to sing Escape (The Piña Colada Song) to the crowd’s enjoyment.

Punctuated by hardcore professional wrestling bouts, the night had little to no lulls.

As soon as a musician finished, they seemed to be quite literally tossed off stage and replaced by a fighter or another guitar-holding luchador.

The structure of performances from here on out were fixed as showdowns.

Artists would be performing against one another to take the belt.

Rapper Khakikid and vocalist Efé had the first bout.

Khakikid’s high energy and infectious stage presence resulted in him having the crowd on strings, while Efé’s dreamy vocals and playful sound almost served as an oasis from the constant chaos.

KhakiKid performing in the wrestling ring at Clash at the Quays – Photo: Dray Morgan

Finally, the title fight began. Curtisy vs Ahmed, With Love.

By this time, we had seen almost six hours of music and the crowd showed no sign of fatigue.

A fantastic performance inside the ring from the two artists finished with Ahmed receiving a dramatic body slam through a table followed by roars from the crowd.

The ingenuity and execution of this evening was second to none. Not only was it an enjoyable event, it was a beacon of inventiveness on the horizon for Dublin City. With the average age of performers no more than 24, the night gave some hope to a rather glum Generation Z.

The award-winning night was deserving of its widespread praise and hopefully, this is only the first iteration of the bizarre combination of wrestling and hip hop that is, Clash at the Quays.

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