Urthboy, The Tongue, Hermitude @ Swan Basement, Fremantle (28/10/2007)

The first night of daylight savings encouraged a young hip-hop loving crowd to get off their sofas, turn off Fox Sports and get themselves down to the Swan Basement on a Sunday, leaving the sunny warm afternoon behind us FasterLouder ventured down to the depths of The Swan Basement to see the last night of the Three Strikes tour.

Upon arrival to the Basement it was particularly baffling to find Urthboy, or Tim Levinson to his mum, on the mic as it seemed he had drawn the short straw and was the first act on the bill. This was particularly perplexing as one would have expected him to be headlining the evening as he has released arguably the best Aussie hip-hop LP of the year. Yet the organisers of the tour may have forgotten this fact and therefore unfortunately not arriving when the doors opened the first couple of tracks were missed. After some initial sound problems, mainly being not loud enough, Urthboy and fellow Herd member Ozi Batla (who was invited to partner Urthboy for the whole tour) got the crowd synchronised and rhythmically head bouncing to album title track The Signal. Quickly followed by I Forgot to Say also from The Signal it is easy to see why Urthboy wanted –  “Ozi B’ with him on the stage as they feed of each other religiously and their lyrical timing is perfect.

On the decks is DJ Elgusto, of fellow Elephant Trakker and tour partner, Hermitude. Elgusto is clearly a class act, adding choruses on the mic, cutting and scratching which he treats us to a healthy dose of throughout the track. Fellow Hermitudan Luke Dubs is then invited on stage as Batla dedicates for the second time (at different gigs) an older Hermitude song, Fallen Giants, to Ben Cousins. Dubs straps on his keyboard keytar style and goes to town with a very impressive display Santana would have been proud of. Batla then removes his hoodie to reveal an ‘Indigenous Rights Now’ t-shirt which mate it kind of refreshing not to be at a Herd gig and have to inhale the political nature of a show, instead tonight you were able to sit back, relax and enjoy the night for what it was, a superb showcase of Oz hip-hop. A faster beat kicked in and we are greeted with recent single and radio favourtite We Get Around which has the boys at the front jumping around and having a jolly good time indeed.

Elgusto gives us another considerably impressive showing of his scratching skill before spinning up Nothing I’d Rather Do and it was clear the crowd has benefited from the sing-a-long. Wrapping it up with first album ( Distant Sense of Random Menace ) favourite No Rider, Urthboy has reinforced his place on the top rung of Australian hip hop where he clearly deserves to be.

The Tongue is a 22-year-old MC from Sydney who attracted nationwide attention with his Bad Education EP of last year and has been going strong ever since. With a battle-rap background, The Tongue really shines with his flow and rhyming and it is evident from the first tracks from his spanking new debut album Shock and Awe. From it, Animal Crackers sounded great and after this he promptly invites Ozi Batla back to the stage to help him with a song about drugs. When playing live, The Tongue is joined by two-times NSW DMC Champion DJ Skoobs who definitely has some skills and humour, dropping the first few bars of Amy Winehouse’s Rehab and just as the crow get suckered in, rips the needle off and launches into recent single Forever. Next is another track from Shock and Awe, The Blues, which gets the crowd interested until Tongue decides it’s time to show the crowd he isn’t just making up the numbers on this tour. He asks the crowd whether they’d like to hear some freestyling and funnily enough the crowd were rather keen on the idea so DJ Skoobs throws down the intro to Pulp Fiction (“Everybody be cool, this is a robbery”) over a DMX beat and kicks things off. The Tongue is an amazingly good freestyler, surely one of the best in Australia as his numerous competition wins would suggest. He makes it seam as if he is rapping from written verse his flow is that smooth and his rhythm does not miss a beat. Freestyle round two is kicked off by a prayer to the hip hop gods before closing round three over Damian Marley’s Welcome to Jamrock. Expect bigger and better things to come from this impressive young MC.

Hermitude consists of two Blue Mountains boys, Luke Dubs (keys, productions, samples) and Angus –  “Elgusto’ Stewart (turntables, samples, production) who make chilled make genre-hopping funk-dub with a dash of hip-hop and garnished with some d&b. The boys started with a lesson on how their live show works, an entertaining and original method that had the crowd’s attention from the start as I’m sure a lot of people were wondering what they were doing headlining the show. Dubs kicked it off with a keyboard melody, Elgusto then added some hi-hats for rhythm, Dubs then kicked some bass in for beat and Elgusto then finished it with some smooth work on the sampler to add some party vocals to finish the track. They then ran through tracks from their two first EPs and debut long player Tales of the Drift including Galactic Cadillac and the mesmerising Nightfall’s Messenger. The boys proceeded to funk it up a little and Elgusto decided it was scratch o’clock and gave his turntable a good seeing to. He then moved to the sampler (MPC) and gave a very impressive routine of hand-timed beats and samples that the crowd appreciated and would have liked to seen more of. Next was some piano tinkling and reggae with Can’t Stop before the crowd got what they wanted and the whole of the night’s Elephant Traks crew returned to the stage for one last verse for a new unreleased track that sure sounded like it would be appearing for public consumption sometime very soon.