Don’t miss Shaggy! Bec Bowman shares her ‘Fridayz Live’ experience

It says something about brand when even a community radio loving, opshopping hipster like myself in her little bubble of indie media has heard of it. And Fridayz Live is an institution, albeit one that has recently undergone a rebrand from the pre-covid “RnB Fridays” and a move to streaming platform LiSTNR. Fortunately, my favourite op shop streams it for me so I can get my RnB and Hip Hop fix while browsing the Gold Seal section.

I wasn’t as familiar with the venue and as it turns out there are several HBF park/stadium/playgrounds in Perth. My sister Rachel kept asking if we were still on Guildford Road and I blamed her poor sense of direction on the pink gin she’d been pre drinking. We rounded onto Selby Street, started following a stretch limo and joked that we were following TLC.

We were not.

We were not anywhere near TLC, Claremont and Claisebrook are on opposite sides of the city and Rachel shouted at me that she was going to miss Shaggy* as we floored it back under the tunnel to HBF Park for Fridayz Live.

We made it just in time for Ashanti. And while I am absolutely not here for a fashion column, she was looking hawt in a neon pink latex jumpsuit. A one-legged latex jumpsuit. It reminded me of those nights when you’re really hot and stick one leg out the doona to cool down.

She has a new single out – a running theme among the artists, as it would turn out – and I am here to say she is bringing the 90s RnB vibes back. The music video for Falling for You starts with an Octavia Butler quote, which means I was immediately sold. You can take the pretentious indie out of her little bubble, but she will always make her way back to underground literature.

RnB is all about the feels. As a genre it is just incredibly, beautifully earnest. This is why I love it so much. There are some BIG statements being made in these songs – the women are the most beautiful, the feelings are the strongest feelings, the sex is – well, you get it. Craig David is the living embodiment of RnB earnestness. His face when he croons “if I could peel your wrapper/I could be your fantasy” is all screwed up with emotion. You just know watching him that this face is his O face. Watching him you think oh yes, I WILL tell you my Flava.

AKON, on the other hand, is all slick braggadocio. His set was a giant mashup of his best tracks, all of them given just enough time for the crowd to lose their minds before he switched up into the next one. I suspect this may tell us something about his follow through on some of those big promises he makes. This was also the set during which Rachel shouted in my ear “it smells like sex in this spot” and got her hand sanitiser out of her tiny bag for us.

The appeal of Fridayz Live is in their ability to bring legacy acts to the lineup. No group has a bigger legacy to live up to than TLC. The nostalgia vibes were strong, and expectations were high. I am so glad I got to experience T-Boz and Chilli performing Unpretty and Creep, I sang loud to No Scrubs and got a tear in Waterfalls hearing the voice of Lisa Lopes rap ‘if you can’t spatially expand my horizons/Then that leaves you in a class with scrubs.’ It was lovely and sad all at the same time.

So many words have been written debating Macklemore‘s legitimacy as a rapper, as an ally and as an advocate. I don’t need to add my thoughts on this. What I know is that when he opened with Same Love the women next to me started enthusiastically making out. All of a sudden the tall dude Rachel had been chatting with had his arms around her waist. All those promises of deep feelings and all-night lovemaking sessions had got the people in some kind of mood.

What I also know is that this bloke can spit bars. He may not be Kendrick Lamar, but he is an amazing performer. He had me unashamedly raising my hands up like the ceiling couldn’t hold us, earnestly telling Rachel that ‘this is the night/these are the moments’ that we would remember.

And for once she didn’t roll her eyes but agreed with me.

* Driving down Guildford Road on the way home we picked up a couple who had lost their phone and needed a ride. They told us Shaggy was awesome and gave us leftover cannoli. Luke, I hope you got your wallet back.

Fridayz Live was at HBF Park on Saturday. 

Bec Bowman


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