Saturday, March 6, 2010

Curse ov Dialect, After Hours @ Live on Light Square

A few years back Channel Ten programmed an amazing Saturday night movie double: Godzilla followed by Head On.

I swear the monster flick actually mutated mid-screening because, when I turned on five minutes before the scheduled finishing time, it was barely halfway through. In fact, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise: the explosion-packed, b-grade excess of Godzilla helped me appreciate Ana Kokkinos’ adaptation of Christos Tsiolkas’ Loaded for the masterpiece it is.

I had a similar experience Live on Light Square during the Adelaide Fringe last night, when quintessential local act After Hours opened for Melbourne’s multicultural freaksters Curse ov Dialect. Rarely has the chasm between Oz hip hop and inner city ‘hippie hop’ been so clearly spotlighted.

The colliding worlds were obvious from the moment we arrived. The outdoor setting was cute and grassy, with couches and random bits of d├ęcor like 10-foot inflatable asparagus in the corner. (This seems to be a Fringe theme this year: the city is dotted with giant blow-up astronauts, one of which overlooked us from the UniSA Arts precinct.) The crowd was small, overwhelmingly male and dressed in caps, hoodies, white t-shirts, jeans - far from skinny but much less baggy than the homie pants of yore - and skate sneakers. Suffer from Hilltop Hoods was chilling towards the bar near the back.

So while Avalon and I settled down with a glass of wine and a blanket over the knees, After Hours jumped up and delivered an enjoyably predictable set. Bouncy beats with excessive bass and scratching? Check. Individual MCs dropping verses with rhymes delivered in unison? Check. Lyrics which, when decipherable, covered time-honoured themes of making ends meet, bitches taking their clothes off and, well, Adelaide? What more could you want?

How about a crowd-pleasing encore entitled “Party and Bullshit”?

After Hours left the stage with the obligatory call to “stick around for Curse ov Dialect” - and half the Adelaide crew headed straight for the exit. Those that stayed, and the few weirdos who had come especially for the headliners, experienced a flicking of the switch from lazy Friday night to deranged sideshow of the imagination.

The last live act to blow me out of the water was Boris in 2007. I didn’t expect it from Curse ov Dialect, whom I’ve seen several times before (although not for years). And I suspect it’s not them who’ve changed, it’s me. Their show is a magical union of psychedelia with hip-hop: we’re talking next-level costumes, choreographed and improvised dance moves, political rants and much, much more…

Paso Bionic’s production is sample-heavy, squelchy and spaceous in just the right places. Of the MCs, Raceless is the most schizophrenic, one minute leaping off stage to initiate a bark chip fight and attack a table, the next winking at us with a sly grin. Vulk Makedonski comes across as the Balkan Che Guevara: he attacks (South Australian Premier) Mike Rann for besmirching the Macedonian community, aims an antique pistol deadpan into the crowd, shows off a bit of folk-dancing and then brings it home with an amazing acapella freestyle. The other two (whose names I shall have to learn) are dressed like a geenie and a gimp, and they are both equally mesmerising.

They read newspapers on stage during a song attacking the media, then rip them up and fill the air with snowflakes. Late in the piece they instruct the small but loose dancefloor to sit down and relax, to pretend we’re not at the show for a moment - then it’s back up and jumping around. I’m not sure why they did that, but it was fun.

A local friend yells in my ear: “They always get small crowds in Adelaide, I don’t know why.” Ever the smart arse, I tell him they always get small crowds in Melbourne too. This may not actually be true but, if it is, it’s a disgrace. Curse ov Dialect are surely one of the most original, exhilarating and just plain entertaining groups this country has produced.

Maybe they’re too good to find a bigger audience, but fuck that. The campaign starts here. Curse ov Dialect are my new favourite group - and they should be yours, too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

there's only one 'e' in 'genie'