Pure pandemonium took over Brisbane’s most praised venue, The Tivoli, on Saturday night when the magnificent Genesis Owusu brought the show of a lifetime to punters.
After winning multiple ARIA and Triple J awards, Owusu has embarked on a victory lap around Australia and the United States to celebrate his mammoth debut ‘Smiling With No Teeth’ with his all-star Black Dog Band. Stopping over in beloved Brisbane for his second last leg of the Australian tour before hitting the states, the show was a colossal representation of Australia’s genre-bending talent.
With a line tracking down the side of The Tivoli before doors had even opened, the anticipation to catch one of Australia’s biggest artists oozed out of the venue. Excitement, impatience and greed filled the air as the doors opened and fans piled inside the venue securing their spots for the big show. The floor was instantly packed like sardines as fans chatted waiting for the opening act.
Kicking off the night, Zimbabwean born, UK-raised, and Melbourne-based artist Kye engulfed the Tivoli stage to wow the crowd with her modern take on neo-soul, perfectly mixed with some glittery disco-house undertones. Kye, who we would later see perform as part of Owusu’s extensive on-stage band, owned the stage and controlled the crowd like it was her own headline show - as she rightfully should. Fuelled by her powerful songwriting, effortlessly rich and silky vocals, and dominant stage presence, Kye is an artist you NEED to get acquainted with.
Next up was the otherworldly anomaly that is DeepFaith. To say DeepFaith are ordinary would be a gross understatement, perhaps even an insult to the artists behind the one-of-a-kind audiovisual project. Led by Daniel Stricker (Midnight Juggernauts), Byron Spencer and Christopher Colonna (Bumblebeez), the multi-dimensional electronic collective is geared towards attaining ‘universal global enlightened collective consciousness’. If that’s a handful for you, then wait until you witness their live show.
From start to finish the performance feels like a religious experience. Beginning with Byron Spencer, the lead vocalist, mechanically walking onstage dripping in cross-shaped diamantes and wearing a harness supporting an iphone positioned in front of his face. He begins speaking to the phone when an led screen with a pink artificial intelligence face lights up behind him and mimics his facial movements. The first 5 minutes of the show is the AI’s and no-one elses, as Spencer voices its angelic and otherworldly vocals and punters are entranced by the unfamiliarity of the AI face in front ofthem. After two tracks, Daniel Stricker enters and the show begins. With ethereal vocal manipulations, magical flute solos, back-up AI dancers and virtual reality the entire show is utterly mind-bending. You truly have to see it to understand the complexity of it. The crowd was frozen in awe of the performance - only moving to capture the theatrics of the stirring digitally animated visuals on their mobile phones.
With just enough time to unpack and recover from the mind-altering experience of DeepFaith, the crowd was silenced as darkness blanketed The Tivoli and Genesis Owusu prowled on stage. Within seconds The Tivoli was Owusu’s and no one else's. Exploding straight into ‘The Other Black Dog’, the crowd turned into a ravenous mosh of excited fans as they were immersed into the theatrical, cinematical and political world of Genesis Owusu.
Joined by the star-studded ‘Black Dog Band’ featuring, Kirin J Callinan, Mikey DiFrancesco (Touch Sensitive), Julian Sudek and Andrew Klippel, the stage oozed rockstar swagger. From Callinan’s 23-pedal setup and flashy cowboy get up to DiFrancesco’s stank-face bass-cials (bass-facials?), the show was just as much Owusu’s as it was the bands. Perhaps, exactly the way he intended it to be as he celebrated the success of his debut.
After diving into funk-driven tracks ‘WUTD’ and ‘Waitin On Ya’, the Tivoli erupted into ‘Gold Chains’ as Owusu sported his iconic flashy poses before delving into his deeply personal narratives of mental unrest, racial inequality and perseverance through music. Next up was ‘I Don’t See Colour’ and ‘Whip Cracker’ - the definition of an explosion in a song. Which saw Owusu erupt into his fierce, raging and relentless side of performance. A scathing diss towards all the bigots and white supremacists the artist has faced in his life, Owusu screams every lyric.
‘Drown’ and ‘Wit Da Team’ seemed to be the crowd favourites until ‘Song About Fishing’ made a whimsical entrance. A calming interval that felt like a minute of brevity amid a harsh storm, the crowd was swaying to each harmony with their phone lights in the air. The night finished with the feel-good groove track ‘Good Times’ before the Black Dog Band was called onstage for an encore. Naturally, the star-studded line-up performed Sex Pistol’s ‘Anarchy In The U.K’ which closed up an extraordinary night of music.
It’s insane to think that Genesis Owusu is just a mere 23 years old. Wearing an outsider label with strength, Owusu's boundary-pushing music and vision is representing a new blueprint of what hip-hop can be and we can’t wait to see what comes next.
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