Live Review: Thundamentals + Dialect and Despair - Rocket Bar, Adelaide (26.10.13)

Rocket Bar is hosting Adelaide’s hip-hop community tonight, or at least some of it (the other lot would be at the Ed Castle, I imagine). I arrive to check out Thundamentals bring their ‘Smiles Don’t Lie Tour’ through the city, getting to the venue just in time to see locals Dialect and Despair wrapping up their set. Australian hip-hop, to those who aren’t fans, has a rugged, bogan veneer but man, if you’ve not been a decently run show, you’re missing out on some serious fun.

Dialect and Despair. I’d not actually seen the pair do their thing before; I think I’ve missed each opportunity I’ve had in the past, so tonight was as much an introduction as anything else. They were fun; performing to a small, but enthusiastic crowd, the duo whipped everyone up and as a support act, that’s what you’d want, right? Being able to freestyle West Beach, Seaview, Cleland Wildlife Park and a whole slew of South Australian references is always going to go down well and by the end of their set, Dialect and Despair had the people gathered around headed back to the bar to drink on a wind of ‘Fuck yeah Adelaide’ pride.

It’s not been that long in between drinks for one Thundamentals member, Tuka. Last in town with Illy, the rapper pulled a huge and enthusiastic response. I proceeded to drunkenly fall in love with him. But I digress. I hadn’t seen Thundamentals perform before tonight, so I was keen to see how their material would be delivered live.

The first thing you’ll notice about this crew is how passionate they are when they’re doing their thing. For a small stage as is the one at Rocket Bar, you didn’t need to be front row to feel the heat threatening to punch you in the face with each rhyme. Tuka, Jeswon and the ever-talented DJ Morgs vibed off each other effortlessly, coupling aggression with some really uplifting and fun lyrics. There’s honesty here, this isn’t a smoke and mirrors show at all. Three guys who love what they do and have a performing ability that isn’t driven by pretension or any kind of hip-hop bravado that turns the audience off rather than on. Tuka’s solo work is given a nod, with a great rendition of his “Just to Feel Wanted” getting fists pumping and people singing along. The boys’ 2011 album Foreverlution is given a good run tonight and it reminded me why it remains one of my favourite records of that year – the production is smooth, the lyrics well-crafted, but the delivery of this music live is really something else.

Surveying the crowd tonight and knowing some of the other venues Thundamentals have hit up in the past, tonight’s assembly was by no means huge. It was a hugely positive audience though, good for Adelaide, which can be notoriously hard to sell at the best of times, especially in an 18+ capacity. I’ve heard some people commenting on the state of hip-hop in this country, much less in Adelaide, but if you were in any doubt, all you needed to do was come to this show (or to the Ed, where Mantra was headlining) – along with these guys headlining, Jimblah, one of our hottest new exports and even Suffa from the Hilltop Hoods were in attendance, showing their support. Hip-hop is here to stay, baby. Shows like tonight and various others throughout this year have just shown that more people are getting comfortable with the fact.