AU ABROAD

Live Review: Yelawolf + Briggs + The HavKnotz + DJ Victor Lopez - Metro Theatre (31.03.12)

Whether you know him predominantly because of his close association with Eminem, or via his break out mixtape Trunk Muzik 0-60, there is absolutely no denying Yelawolf’s future in the hip hop industry. The 32 year old rapper has one of the most exciting flows in rap today – he is able to seamlessly switch his speed and style in a way very few rappers can achieve while actually sounding consistent. It comes as no surprise that he has built up a strong, loyal fan-base worldwide.

Descending upon Australia with his unique southern drawl, Yelawolf packed out the Metro Theatre with a very mixed crowd of stereotypical Aussie hip-hop fans and a few hipsters scattered here and there.

The always reliable three-man rap-rock crew The HavKnotz took to the stage as the first support act and completely owned the stage during their hour-long set. Losty, the emcee of the trio, didn’t miss a step while their guitarist added some welcome attitude to DJ Waza’s hard-hitting beats. Every track performed built upon the already massive energy emanating from the crowd, who were constantly waving their hands in the air, making the perfect atmosphere for a hip-hop gig.

Things slowed down a bit when DJ Victor Lopez took to the decks. While proving to be a very capable DJ, he took us through a very generic playlist – the kind I have come to always expect at an Australian hip-hop concert. Ice Cube’s ‘You Can Do It,’ Dr Dre’s ‘Still D.R.E’ and ‘The Next Episode’ – I’m beginning to suspect that Australia’s scene thinks there are only 15 or so hip-hop songs in existence. I was mistaken to believe that at a southern rap gig I’d just hear classic southern rap like UGK and Scarface; but the crowd enjoyed it - as they always do - and that’s all that should matter.

Hilltop Hoods-approved Australian rapper Briggs was up next and came charging onto the stage to Dr Dre and Ice Cube’s ‘Natural Born Killaz.’ There is no denying Briggs powerful voice and competent skills as a rapper, but the entire set consisted of generic tracks which blended into each other, making for a very boring set.

The one time where Briggs sounded best was when he rhymed over Mike Jones’ ‘Still Tippin,’ but even that lost its appeal quickly. However, the crowd seemed to relish the set, and I can’t fault Briggs’ stage presence.

Thankfully, Yelawolf didn’t keep us waiting for too long and went straight in with one of his biggest tracks ‘Daddy’s Lambo,’ the crowd immediately proving that they knew every single word (though, maybe except Yela’s rapid-fire verses).

Yelawolf’s debut LP Radioactive was considered a bit of a disappointment, given what the southern emcee is capable of; evidently Yelawolf got the hint and filled most of his set with mixtape tracks, much to my delight.

The one-two punch of ‘Trunk Muzik’ and ‘No Hands’ let us know that we weren’t to expect any dull moments; the Lil’ Jon-featured ‘Hard White’ proved a perfect display of Yelawolf’s versatile flow; and his infamous BET Cypher verse from last year’s award show extinguished any remaining doubt of his skills. Even some of his more lacklustre tracks like ‘Growin Up In The Gutter’ sounded much better live with the added bass.

In place of taking a break, Yelawolf allowed his DJ to take us through some of the other genres that the Alabama native grew up with – everything from Johnny Cash to Metallica aroused much excitement from the crowd; but the pinnacle of the set was the following performance of ‘Pop the Trunk.’ Undeniable Yelawolf’s biggest and best track, ‘Pop the Trunk’ ensured a huge rap-a-long, and even saw a huge shift towards the front with much of the crowd compromising safety for excitement.

A couple more mixtape hits like ‘Love is Not Enough’ and ‘Good to Go’ rounded out the main set while the one-song encore exploded with the Kid Rock-featuring ‘Let’s Roll.’

Following DJ Victor Lopez and Briggs, my expectations of the night were somewhat lowered and I found myself ready to just get out of the venue; thankfully, Yelawolf knows how to put together a satisfying set list and possesses just the right amount of showmanship to give us all what we came for – and he did just that.

Set List:

Daddy’s Lambo
Trunk Muzik
No Hands
Hard White (Up In The Club)
B.E.T Cypher 2011
I Wish
Get Away
Growin’ Up In The Gutter
Let’s Go
Box Chevy
Pop The Trunk
Marijuana
Billy Crystal
Love Is Not Enough
I Just Wanna Party
Good To Go

Encore

Let’s Roll