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[Review] Marc Rebillet @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 25/01/2023

When I walked into the Forum Theatre last night, the first thing I noticed was the choice of clothing. Every second person was wearing bathrobes! I’d been well aware of Marc Rebillet and his brand of humour through his online presence, but nothing could’ve prepared me for the pure silliness in store for me at Marc’s debut Melbourne show. Delayed several times due to the troubles of the last few years, Marc has been waiting a long time to make his first appearance down under and, now that he finally has, he’s commenced his three sold out shows with a brilliant opening night.

Blowing up on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, Marc Rebillet is a musician who specialise in improvisational beatmaking with a comedy angle, ala Reggie Watts, with a distinct Millennial twist. Many of his songs are goofy celebrations or warnings, such as VACCINATED ATTITUDE and YOUR NEW MORNING ALARM

Opening up for Marc was the brilliant Cry Club, a queer pop-punk duo from Wollongong. They dedicated their first song People Like Me to queer rage everywhere, and tore into a set of passionate, dancy rock music.

I was surprised and happy to hear them sneak into a cover of Olivia Rodrigo’s smash-hit Good For You, which was a killer sing-along. The also paid tribute to the goth gods of old, with the track Robert Smith, dedicated to The Cure’s fantastic front man, taking the opportunity, of course, to slander his fallen-from-grace peer Morrissey.

After Cry Club’s short but sweet warmup, the first sight we got of Marc was his face bouncing around the screen behind the stage, like a DVD screensaver from the early 2000s. This immediately set the tone for the whole show, as the crowd would cheer and holler every time the face got close to a corner, only to cry in disappointment when it wasn’t perfect corner. This continued for some time, until we finally achieved nostalgic perfection with a clean hit to the corner, and the screen faded to black. Then the show began.

Marc Rebillet took to the stage. Not to play a song, but to take a moment to bask in the crowd. He immediately began engaging with us, asking if we were ready, jumping into the crowd to get responses on the microphone, hyping us up with his boisterous personality. Then he jumped behind the laptop, and we were treated to possibly the funniest visualiser I have ever seen at a concert.

Marc’s computer screen was displayed on screen, with him entering his lewd but hilarious password, and us being treated to goofy folder names including “definitely not porn” and “beets”, but opening up the tour visuals, only to blow our minds. Cats playing piano, suggestive videos of fruit, turtles fornicating, the whole deal. Marc clearly had one feeling on the mind: horny. And the crowd was right there with him.

Jumping into beat making, Marc layered snares, hats, and percussion for many bars, teasing us before finally punching us in the face with a kickass bass, accompanied by pyrotechnics, pushing the crowd into an immediate up-tempo tech house groove. Mixing one beat into the next, with random stops to say something out of pocket and hilarious, Marc sat perfectly between techno DJ and the kid with too many sugary treats in their lunchbox, the energy built in those first few minutes managed to power a crowd of crazed fans for a full hour and forty minutes.

Mid set, a bra was thrown on stage. Typical display for a rockstar, but being his silly self, Marc was of course obliged to wear it for almost the whole rest of the show. Nothing stumps Marc Rebillet. Taking a moment to speak to a fan in the crowd, the fan responded that Marc was much smaller in person. Such a comment wouldn’t be great on most men’s egos, but this man will use anything for inspiration, so a beat is made using the statement as a key lyric. Nothing stumps Marc Rebillet.

In case it wasn’t already clear, near the end of the show Marc told us that there were no setlists, no plans, and that it was all made up on the spot. Authenticity doesn’t come much closer in live music than this. Ending the show with the hits GIRLS CLUB and FLAMINGO, Marc secured several thousand fans loyalty to the cult of Rebillet, and proved to me that he was more than a meme and in fact a deeply talented, and stupidly hilarious artist.

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[Review] Pip Millett @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 18/01/2023

Swung RnB drums, groovy bass, sweet keys, tender vocals, a passionate crowd. The energy at Pip Millett’s debut Naarm/Melbourne show on Wednesday night could only be described as warm, as her opener Shanae stated a few songs into her set. The vibe was sensual, slow, groovy and passionate, a perfect mood for a smaller intimate venue such as 170 Russell, the old nightclub venue in the heart of the city.

Opening for the Manchester singer was Sydney singer Shanae. A short yet tight 20-minute set brought the crowd right where it needed to be, with slow-burns Illusions, Come On Over and key single Locking Eyes. Backed up with a smooth jazz electric piano, Shanae and her musical partner played sweet minimal, yet funky arrangements of their tracks which normally featured more hip-hop and electronic instrumentation, giving us the stripped back pseudo unplugged experience. Although she is small, Shanae is an artist to keep your ears and eyes on as she makes her way through the Aussie scene. My favourite track played was Some Type Of Way, simple for the pure passion in the vocal performance.

After a quick intermission, our headliner took the stage. Pip Millett opened the show with Think You Know Me, the intro to her 2022 album When Everything Is Better, I’ll Let You Know, Millett took us into her world, more specifically the current place in her creative journey. Choosing to open a show with a project’s opening track implies a level of continuity between the studio and live experience, which was both confirmed and contradicted by the following set.

Immediately after this opening number, Pip spoke to the audience. Her charming Northern English accent carried words of humour and modesty, as she seemed humbled and surprised that anyone, let alone a sold-out venue worth of people would come see her sing, yet there we were. Telling us “I came so fucking far to see you bitches” she launched into a medley of album tracks and hits, highlighted by the beautiful Do Well and Downright.

Her band was world class. A classy drummer, positioned side stage, punctuated the smooth RnB with a mix of acoustic and electronic instrumentation. The bass player took lead duties, carrying many of the low-end heavy tracks, with the guitar and keys players adding subtle rhythmic and spatial elements to fill out the sound. It’s always great to see an amazing RnB band showing us just how deeply in the pocket a team of musicians with killer chemistry can be. When Pip Millet took the chance to introduce her band, she teased them all saying, “Congratulations for being in my band, you’ve hit the fucking jackpot”, a sweet injection of cheeky confidence to contrast the music that mainly covered darker and sadder material. Pip is so clearly a person with much love for the people she works with, which always endears the music further to you when it comes from such a warm place.

My favourite songs of the night were Heavenly Mother, for its catchy and fun chorus, and Only Love, the closer of the new album, for it’s stripped back and minimal vibe. Pip also managed to do some of the best self-harmonisation I’ve ever seen, making her sound fuller and more emotional in deeper moments.

By the final track, the crowd had truly fallen in love. Make Me Cry, Pip’s sing-along hit made for a beautifully melancholy end, with her introducing it as the first song she released, and a song the reminds her of a long-lost time that still brings deep feelings to her heart. Her performance, her artistry, and her passion truly were a joy to see and made for a beautiful evening.

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[Review] Joey Bada$$ @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 08/01/2023

Sunday night was a buzz on Flinders Street as hundreds of fans lined up around the block into Hozier lane for New York’s Joey Bada$$ and his epic show at Melbourne’s classic Forum Theatre. Making his grand return to Australia for the first time in a few years, the Brooklyn native is known for his infamous rise to fame in 2012 with his self-released, no major label mixtape 1999, and a string of fantastic albums to follow, as well as being a co-founder of hip-hop group Pro Era. Releasing 1999 at just 17 years old, he made waves with his lyricism well beyond his age and skill behind the microphone. This tour, the 1999-2000 tour, represents a celebration of 10 years of the debut record, along with promoting the brand-new sequel record, 2000, released in 2022. The hype was real.

Opening the show was South Sydney rapper, Gomeroi man and master storyteller Kobie Dee. At only 25 years old, Dee covers a lifetime of narrative. Focusing in on his home and community of Maroubra, Kobie Dee highlighted the issues of mental illness, drug abuse and youth suicide, discussing the importance of conversation and removing stigma from the subjects. He took time to pay tribute to lost loved ones, and to celebrate what they stood for. But as well, Kobie Dee brought the party, and brought it hard. Fan favourites such as This Life and Basics were anthems, with the whole crowd bouncing and singing along for the full 30-minute tight set. Kobie Dee represents the future of Aussie conscious hip hop and predicts high hopes for storytelling through music.

Next up was Powers Pleasant. Producer, DJ and Pro Era alumni, Powers brought the bangers. Over the years I have seen a lot of hip hop warmup DJs, but man, this was the hottest 25 minutes of heat I’ve ever seen before a rap set. Powers Pleasant toured us through quick edits of Denzel Curry, Freddie Gibbs, Kid Cudi, Lil Uzi Vert, Kendrick Lamar and even Nirvana with crazy fun transitions to match. The crowd was pretty much on fire by the time the set ended and the main act began.

Joining Powers on stage, Joey Bada$$ hit the stage just before 10pm, opening with the fan favourite and classic track of his debut, Survival Tactics. The classic chant of “Fuck The Police” was cleverly contrasted with the red and blue stage lights, setting the scene for a night of rebellious rap.

Not missing a word except to wave the mic at the audience for their support, Joey blew through classic after classic before addressing the crowd for the first time. Taking his time to bask in the love of the crowd Joey Bada$$ thanked us for our ongoing love and support, told us he was here for the day ones all the way to the new fans, instilling the further duality of the tour title, a reflection on the decade of music and the ongoing relationship with his fans. The connection of conscious rap, politically charged lyricism and a romantic edge penetrated the consciousness of all in the room.

Joey also took his time to pay tribute to hip hop legends we’ve lost in recent years, including King Von, Nipsey Hussle and the ever-controversial XXXTENTACION. Many hip hop shows have a moment such as this, where they look back on those fallen, but Joey’s was more than just a grab at tragedy, but instead a thought provoking moment of pain for friends gone. The ongoing issue of gun violence in the US is not a taboo topic to Joey Bada$$, and often enters his music as he is more than familiar with its sting.

The crowd was bouncing the whole night. It was clear that these fans knew their material, with every song a sing-along, every chorus a chant. The mosh was heavy and hard, but the energy was positive, with those falling being picked up to re-join the party. A perfect blend of love and anger, triumph and pain, joy and rage.

Highlights of the night’s set included Head High, Make Me Feel, Paper Trail$ and the chart-topper TEMPTATION which for me was the best of the show. Joey wasn’t satisfied to end on that track though, and despite the Forum’s strict curfew, he chose to “risk the fine” and play one more song because he’s Joey Fucking Bada$$, the crowd chanted. Ending the show with the banger DEVESTATED, the fans were left sweaty, messy but satisfied from a night of dope hip-hop and awesome music.

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[Review] The Crystal Method @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 16/12/2022

Returning to 170 Russell was like a rush of nostalgia for me. Memories of old gigs and dirty club nights on a Saturday. Nostalgia was certainly the key for this evening’s entertainment, as both The Crystal Method and his support act Black Cab dealt in it as their main theme.

Opening the show was Melbourne’s own Black Cab, a three-piece electronica group with classic roots. With clear inspiration from New Order, the band dealt a constant vibe for their entire set. The drummer played almost entirely 16th notes for the whole show, an incredibly bold move for a live band. That kind of rhythmic consistency is generally limited to raves and prog shows. In this case, it held a strong backbeat and pace for a crowd of mostly 50-somethings to bop along to. Layering on synth pads, arpeggios and effects, the band built a danceable sound with a bright palette. About 10 minutes into the set, the singer began to add a layer of ambient vocals, adding to an already solid sound.

With every song gradually evolving into the next, it was a surprise when their set ended, as it felt like one fantastic long dance hit drawing me further and further in.

Once the main act began, there was almost no stopping him. What was once a duo, is now one man (Scott Kirkland), and The Crystal Method lives on through him. Taking us back to the 90s, to the height of the Big Beat movement, the show was a non-stop rave-ride through the soundscape that defined the genre and the era. The sound featured sampled guitars, huge drums, massive basslines and all contrasted fantastically with insane visuals. These featured spacey sci-fi worlds, cityscapes and even concert footage from stadium shows of yesteryear. It felt like a journey to another time, and I was invited along for the ride.

Half-way through the set, Kirkland took to the microphone to pay tribute to fellow big beat icon, Keith Flint, of The Prodigy fame, who unfortunately passed away in early 2019. He played their mega hit Firestarter, which then blew the lid off an already insane crowd.

Finishing off the show with the hits of Busy Child, Name of the Game and more was the obvious choice, but still sunk in deep with the audience of diehard fans. The real skill was in creating an almost two-hour set of constant big beat bangers, remixes and classics to bring the house down on a night of nostalgia, rave and pure ecstasy.

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Keshi @ Palace Foreshore, Melbourne 22/11/2022

Fresh off a show being moved from the new Palace Foreshore venue, the storm clouds forming over St Kilda didn’t seem to bode well for another outdoor show at the new space, but luckily, Keshi’s fans had better luck than The Black Crowes. The weather may have been chilly, but the mood was electric as the evening’s entertainment began.

Rei Brown, Japanese born and New York based R&B singer opened the show, with a brilliant display of his talents as a musician and performer. Often, a support act for a pop or hip-hop artist can struggle to wow a crowd, due to not being given the full access to a venue’s features, such as lights and screens, but that didn’t stop the young artist from showing his true colours.

Brown played a short, tight set, highlighted by the killer track Haunt Me from his most recent record Xeno, released earlier this year. The song acted as the emotional centrepiece for a passionate and spacey decent into’s Brown’s melancholia. Honest was also a fan favourite, garnering immediate applause from keen audience, who sang along to every word. The icy crowd was truly warmed up by Rei Brown, a well selected opener for a fantastic crooning headliner.

When it came time for Keshi to finally take the stage, the crowd were so excited that they would all raise their phones whenever an engineer or technician crossed the huge festival-style stage, expecting their idol to have finally commenced his performance, so the clear passion for the music on display was clear before I heard a note of the music.

Keshi took to the stage on time and wowed me immediately. He opened with a fresh banger, GET IT, the first track from his new album GABRIEL. The song had the crowd jumping, and initially gave me major Brockhampton vibes, but grew into something bigger. The inspiration of the boy band, especially that of Kevin Abstract, Bearface and Joba was clear, but the depth and quality of the song writing was something entirely further than that the band missed when I’d seen them live years before.

Keshi’s band was something beyond any of his peers I’ve seen before. Many hip-hop artists perform with nothing more than a DJ, and many can do so much with this, but many also fall flat, especially when performing at festivals and outdoor venues. Keshi throughs this idea completely out the window, with one of the best hip-hop R&B bands I’ve ever seen. His drummer balanced traditional flashy drumming with trap-style hip-hop flow, mixing acoustic drums and sample pads like bread and butter. His guitarists and keyboards flawed me further, with an almost orchestral use of layering, and dynamics on display.

The 28 himself also took to the guitar and piano for a few tracks, singing beautiful ballads such as less of you, and the fan favourite drunk, which he called for the new-school phone torch filled crowd for, creating a seriously intimate experience for a show with almost five thousand people in attendance.

He also took a page out of the artists of yesteryear and chose a few sweet stories to share as part of his performance. These included stories about sharing the first song he wrote for the new record, touch, with his manager, and receiving radio silence only to find out it was his favourite. These tales added to the charming demeanour of the artist, who only once missed a cue and apologised to humbly begin the song again perfectly.  Keshi teased the crowd, taking off and putting back on his jacket, to show a little skin, only to hide again when quote “my nipples are standing to attention!”, showing his cheeky sense of humour and love for his fans. Ending with a scream for an encore, and satisfying the fans with one last track, Keshi left the fans ecstatic.

With his humble beginnings as a Soundcloud rapper, many would assume lesser of a musician such as Keshi, but this show proved that he is more than just a rapper or R&B singer – he is a true showman, and a real rockstar, with a hell of a legacy on the way.

You can still catch Keshi with limited Tickets remaining

BRISBANE, November 23rd – Eatons Hill Hotel

SYDNEY, November 24th – The Roadhouse

Tickets here

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