Urthboy‘s national album tour for The Past Beats Inside Me Like a Second Heartbeat wrapped up over the weekend, with shows in South Australia and out in Western Australia bringing the Elefant Traks family to many, many fans. With L-FRESH THE LION and Okenyo on support duties, this was an incredible line up of talent, both established and emerging – a great insight into how diverse the scene is becoming and how damn excited we should be because of it.
Okenyo is an artist whose music I have been in love with for a few years now – I think it was when she was on tour with Jinja Safari back in 2013 that I first saw her perform live and had been hooked. Her voice is incredible and she cut such a dominating figure on the Rocket Bar stage on Friday, even if her set started at an early time of 8:30pm. Her latest single, “10 Feet Tall”, is a perfect example of Okenyo’s strength as a musician and as a live performer, she proved to be even more electrifying than I remember.
L-Fresh’s return to Rocket Bar was very much a welcome one – last performing here with Remi, the Sydney rapper was quick to make a good impression. The release of his album Become has seen L-Fresh step further into the spotlight as one of Aussie hip-hop’s most important new figures and his shows in 2016 have continued to rise to the expectations.
Joining him onstage once more was DJ MK-1 on the decks and easily one of the country’s best hype ladies, Mirrah. Mirrah’s energy hit every single person in the Rocket Bar band room within minutes of her first appearance on stage; diminutive in stature, her presence on stage stood out strongly as she bounded back and forth, spitting rhymes on “Hold Up” in place of Remi, urging the front row to get involved. Between herself and L-Fresh’s glowing positivity on stage, this was a perfect precursor of a set on this particular tour bill.
When Urthboy took to the stage after a quick reset, the venue was packed in with hip hop fans eager to see just how well this new album material would work live. …Second Heartbeat, while possibly one of Urthboy’s best yet, came jam-packed with special guests and while it was obvious that his hometown show saw many of them join in, this show was executed just as well even it was sans-the likes of Kira Puru, Bertie Blackman and Jane Tyrrell, say.
Though his material hits hard when doled out live, Urthboy has a laid-back swagger to his presence in between songs that is obviously part of his relatable charm for a lot of fans. He tells the crowd about how his little girl sleepily asked him to make her breakfast as he headed out the door at 6am that morning to get on a plane out of Sydney and comments that he’s trying to make music for a hip hop environment that will be open and safe for his daughter to enjoy when she’s older.
Of course, all of this is met with cheers, but there’s a sense of realness about it all that keeps the show grounded and not driven by an egocentric sense of wanting to win a crowd over. The …Second Heartbeat material sounds great, with “Rushing Through Me”, “Second Heartbeat” and “Daughter of the Light” all being met with awesome responses.
Okenyo, L-Fresh and Mirrah join Urthboy and his vocalists onstage as the show hit the midway point for an all-in collab that had the crowd respond with even more enthusiasm and it was clear that both artists and audience alike were on another level as we worked our way toward midnight.