Despite the dreary winter weather still clinging to WA, people flocked to the basement of The Odd Fellow in Fremantle on Saturday night to soak up the positive vibes as it transformed into an electric den of energy under performances from L-Fresh the Lion’s Become Tour. Sparking with pointedly political verse, heavy beats and 100% audience participation it was a night that delved deeper than just bouncing along to some live music. It’s easy see how the L-Fresh crew are quickly becoming touted the fiercest act in the hip hop scene.
Opening the night with something that both caught the room off guard and yet instantly engaged them, spoken word artist Sukhjit (not pronounced suk-shit as she woefully declared) pulled the venue through a confronting, humourous, often times melodic journey as she performed anecdotes about her experiences regarding race, gender, and just generally referencing Beyoncé at every opportunity. Testing the crowd on their clicking ability her set swooped into a parody of Destiny Child’s Say My Name before questioning attitudes you often encounter, pulling one guy on stage to reenact the education of a cat caller. Far from the usual support band expectations, her performance challenged just that, the preconceptions you forgot you had, and the audience were more than willing, shuffling forward on request to check out a set they may not have otherwise sought out.
Following up was NSW poet, author and rapper Omar Musa, and although it began with a quiet start his lyrics and never-ending flow of energy soon enticed people from the candlelit corners of the venue. Promising that he “doesn’t just write angry political songs” after “Dead Centre’s” emphasis on racial inequalities. The fast paced trap influenced beats didn’t slow down as he continued to pace the stage for “Freedom”, exuding a confidence in his songs that was more about truth than bravado. Pulling long-time friend and fellow rapper Marksman Lloyd onto the stage to share a verse that had the crowd clapping along before Omar finished with a fiery love song dedicated to what he is petitioning to be the new national dish with “LAK$A” bringing the whole venue in with the chorus chiming “Woo, this shit is hot!”.
The excitement was there as main man L-Fresh, pocket rocket MC Mirrah and beats provider MK-1 took to the stage jumping straight into “Pray For Me” that had punters cooing along from the get go. Sharing the stage with a well-practised chemistry that just magnified the feel good vibes radiating from the music and lyrics as we all held up our fingers to chant to “One”. Mixing things up from his last WA show supporting Urthboy, L-Fresh threw in some words to note between songs, recognising the journey from his debut album to his latest release, Become. Speaking about how it was his role to recognise the deeper complexities, strengths and ability to connect by showing the weaknesses and fragility and to share the reality. “Takeover” rung out hypnotically as Mirrah tore through the chorus, voicing her own fade out with breathless ease while “Get Mine” got the traditional dance treatment, the joy on stage infectious as it rolled across the crowd.
“1 in 100,000” was received with uproar, the whole room jumping with arms raised as the warped beats shook through the venue while L-Fresh commanded the stage rapping, ‘So just bounce to this…’. The memorable shows are always the ones where the artists look like they’re having as much fun as the audience, and this is notably true as the sampled tones of the “Mundian To Bach Ke / Beware” by Panjabi MC remix chimed in, L-Fresh getting all the ladies and fellas to sing ‘Balle, Balle, Balle’ on turn as people continued dancing being led by the hype crew with Sukhjit joining the stage and Omar Musa there in spirit needing to catch the red eye back East.
Having roped in a few punters to their first intimate hip hop show, it was great to see the Lion’s fresh take on the fast lyrical intertwined with cultural and personal themes left everyone in awe. The recognition and relatability of each song being the driving point keeps the impact of each verse accessible and the dedication to positive vibes becomes just plain contagious. Seeing the show live twice in the last two months, it’s safe to say that L-Fresh the Lion is the one to catch this year.