I was lucky enough to catch Slowthai last time he appeared down under, way back in 2019 at Listen Out festival in St Kilda. I remembered death circles, surprises, drugs and rage, and it was a joy to see and hear. When I heard the UK rapper was finally making his return to Australia, I knew I had to catch up with Tyron and see how he’d evolved as a performer. And well, he’s grown.
The 28-year-old rapper, Northhampton raised rose to popularity in 2019 along with his Nothing Great About Britain album and hits like T N Biscuits. Following up two years later with a killer sophomore release in TYRON, Thai is now preparing to drop his third record, with several dope singles already released and a tour to prime us for more.
Returning again to 170 Russell, I was impressed by the sold out venue’s ability to still have keen line of sight vision from almost every corner of the room. The stage was clearly visible even from the bar, but the choice to maintain a low level of light with a red background turned the whole thing into a dingy future-punk stage show.
Fantastic crowd connection was the key to Slowthai’s tight, one hour set. No opener, no DJ warmup. 10pm Slowthai hit the stage and set the crowd alight. Opening with his newest single, Feel Good, takins us right into what makes Thai a vibe. Punk drums, distorted bass, grimy bars. Backing it up with his controversial hit CANCELLED, which moved into a freestyle verse, he quickly dismissed it “probably the worst freestyle I’ve ever done”. Now in this moment, he could’ve made it awkward, but embraced the weirdness with the classic Freddie Mercury operatic crowd call and response.
Enjoying his control over the audience, Slowthai set a rule. Side A, when called would shout “Fuck off”. Side B, “cunt” and the people up the back, “dickhead”. A hilarious call to arms for the people, every few songs he shuffled between calling for all the areas to shout their chosen chant. And to top it off, he randomly went into a sing-along of Elvis’ Can’t Help Falling In Love, and a crowd of twenty-somethings knew every word.
Switching it up with his Bernard Herrmann inspired horrorcore banger Psycho, featuring Denzel Curry, the crowd was knocking yet again. Choosing controversy yet again, the UK rapper then decide to tell us that his hometown biscuit, Penguin, was better than Australia’s Tim Tam. Bizarre, angry hilarity ensued.
From this point, the hits didn’t stop. Deal Wiv It, the Mura Masa hit, followed by the Gorillaz goofy rager Momentary Bliss, Desire and the cherry on top, the modern classic: Doorman. Many, many epic nights with my friends have started or ended with a singalong of this song. “Door man, let me in the door. Spent all my money you ain’t getting no more”. The kickass drums, the awesome descending bassline, the distorted narration sample of some old punk documentary, the whole track is a vibe.
Leaving Slowthai, the air was thick with sweat, pot and joy. Every single member of the audience was feeling the beat, channelling the energy and craving more. And knowing I’m going to be seeing him again this weekend at Laneway, I’m already ecstatic with excitement