Joelistics, Ishu, D’Opus @ Transit Bar, Canberra (18/8/11)

The Transit Bar in Canberra is the epitome of a relaxed, casual vibe. You can venture into the small bar underneath the Canberra YHA on most nights and you will be greeted with friendly relaxed patrons; there for a quiet drink, a game of pool or a pizza. However, the main reason people frequent Transit, is for the grooves. The stage is tiny and the volume is usually low, but when an artist is on that stage, you are compelled to listen.

On this particular occasion, we were looking forward to a night of smooth Aussie hip-hop and cool beats from Melbourne artists, DJ Ishu, and one half of TZU’s, Joelistics.

Polo Club were unable to play this particular show, so resident DJ D’Opus, took it upon himself (with little complaint I am sure) to warm the crowd up with some warm beats. His presence may not have stood out for most of the regulars, but watching him closely for any length of time and you will see how committed and talented this man is on the decks. Known for his pairing with Roshambo and being one of Canberra’s pre-eminent DJs, he certainly plies his craft well and gave the crowd a treat with a remix of Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know.

D’Opus’ groove segued seamlessly into Ishu’s set as he, similar to the support act, showed us his skill and passion on the decks. The crowd sat back and soaked in the ultra-smooth beats pulled from his album of last year, A World in Progress. The bass emanating from the subs seemed to warm the crowd as bodies started to move and gyrate to the organic blend of electronic music that Ishu creates. He is obviously used to being the man behind the decks and not on front of the stage as he says little during his set, but when he’s dropping catchy samples and moving his hands and fingers non-stop, he can be excused from interacting with the audience.

With little fanfare, Joelistics made his way to the stage and addressed the (still) relaxed crowd. In return for our lethargy he proclaimed that he’s going to start the show in a more relaxed way. He proceeded to venture into an epic spoken word rap called I am By Virtue. No beats, no backings… just Joelistics (aka Joel Ma) doing what he does best. Expressing himself with delicious rhymes and lyrics.

Within seconds of asking us to come to the front, Transit Bar’s narrow space is filled with fans as Joelistics drops The People. The lyrics, “Where the hell are all the people,” could be construed as sarcastic if delivered from other artists, but in Joelistics’ case you would not even think it. His genuine love of performing and delivering his intelligent and thought-provoking lyrics kept the crowd entranced. From the barking chorus of Head Right to a small Prince dance jam to a sing-along with Dolly Parton, we rode right along with Joelistics as he pulled out most of the tracks from his debut solo album, Voyager. Ably supported by DJ Soup on the decks, we were also given a couple of surprises, including TZU track, Position Correction.

There was little to dislike about the show; Joelistics gave us a taste of his life, his beliefs and his amazing songwriting. We were instructed to dance and feel the music just as he does and we did, with abandon. The show wrapped up with his latest single, Days and the crowd slowly dispersed. Still relaxed, but noticeably smiling more.

To quote the man himself, “You see, I am virtue of my nature, a passionate creature.” Yes indeed Joelistics. You are, and we love you for it.