L-FRESH The LION, Kucka and Aristophanes at Chevron Festival Gardens

Aristophanes, Kucka & L-FRESH The LION | Chevron Festival Gardens | ★ ★ ★

Friday night at the Chevron Festival Gardens saw an eclectic triple header with Sydney rapper L-FRESH The LION and local experimental-electronic favourite Kucka opening for Taiwanese internet star, Aristophanes.

L-FRESH The LION was the highlight of the night. Despite playing to a relatively sparse crowd, L-FRESH, along with co-MC Mirrah and DJ MK1, were able to get bodies moving by putting on an enthusiastic performance that at certain points reminded me of dynamism of Die Antwoord and at other times seemed more closely aligned to retro hip-hop artists like the The Fugees who weave in positive political thoughts into their work. For the final song of the set, the crowd was told they had temporarily become Punjabis and were asked to chant the response “Bala, Bala, Bala!’ – ‘Bala’ being a slang term used to energise those around you.

Kucka delivered a hypnotic and glacial set made up mostly of songs from her most recent EP, as well as some new material. Her soaring vocals over low-tempo trip hop-like electronic landscapes displayed why she continues to be one of Perth’s mostly highly regarded musical talents.

Admittedly, I had some difficulty trying to what to make of the final act and headliner.

Rapping only in Mandarin, Aristophanes has recently achieved a significant amount of acclaim for her unique tracks blend of high-tempo hip-hop, slam poetry and electronica which she releases through her SoundCloud page. The content of her lyrics covers a range of topics including sex, gender and capitalist critique while her loosely structured delivery has more in common with rapid-fire spoken word than conventional hip-hop verse.

Seeing Aristophanes perform live in a large capacity venue, there was something that didn’t quite connect. What would have come across as poetic nonchalance and disregard for convention to the two dozen or so fully embracing the experience seemed to put off the remainder of the audience, with a number of people leaving or not returning from the break.

To me, the strongest element of the show was her presence – it was clear from start to finish that this was a confident artist with a lot to say, loving every second of being on stage. However, unless you were willing to let the more discordant parts ‘wash over you’, much of this will have been lost.

It is great to see that PIAF is prepared to present Perth audiences with challenging international work of this nature but it was hard to fight the feeling that a smaller venue may have been more suitable.

Perth International Arts Festival runs until Sunday March 5th. For more information head to perthfestival.com.au

Ned Reilly

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