Vents, Newsense, Anton, Buick, Flawless @ Transit Bar, Canberra (14/7/11)

Canberra’s hip-hop fans are a hearty bunch. 8.30pm and it’s down to 1.5 degrees as the Transit Bar slowly starts to grow with an eclectic crowd ready to see a trio of local and South-Australian hip-hop on a Thursday night. 
The stage is set with the bare essentials; a turntable, mixer, laptop and mic stand.

Before you even down your first drink, local emcee Flawless is on stage with a replacement DJ that he announces, “Can’t scratch, but can push buttons.” Although solo, he rips through a solid set of tracks with a powerful voice that definitely draws the attention of the early crowd.
 It’s great to see a support act with a healthy set of chops and rhymes to match – well worth keeping an eye on. 
The small but growing crowd seemed satisfied as a hooded man jumps on stage to rap with Flawless and together they round it out with a tight set.

Next up we saw DJ Buick on the decks with MCs Newsense and Anton out front. Long established local Newsense appeared to be in good spirits as he let loose some fiery lyrics that the audience lapped up. His command and ease on the mic showed as he bounced back and forth on stage with MC Anton in what was a sweet pairing. Anton’s lyrics and tone compliment Newsense as they took turns on the mic throughout the bouncing set. The highlight was a song called Vixen beginning with a spoken-word intro about a girl on a downward spiral. Not exactly uplifting stuff, but sung with the passion and commitment that you expect from this solid Canberra collective.

The small but loyal crowd were sufficiently warmed up when Adelaidean Vents took to the stage with DJ Adfu. Needing little fanfare, Vents pulled the fans up close and unrepentantly ripped into the title track from his latest album, Marked for Death. If the crowd weren’t warmed up yet, they soon would be, as the stage prowling MC rolled straight into his latest single, History of the World. Vents’ intensity and focus is clear in every single track that he drops during the night. Add to that the expertise of the nimble fingered Adfu on the decks and you have a powerful duo. Adfu alternates between masterfully scratching and spinning the beats while emceeing with Vents on every track. Producer Trials’ kick-drum driven lines adds that extra layer of power to the live performance. The crowd’s involvement peaked with a joyful rendition of A Love Song, giving the people a chance to get their ‘na na na’ on. The audience’s love of Vents was obvious as they belted out the lyrics to most of his songs.

With a three-week break in the tour before this show and a laptop failure earlier in the day, there were some noticeable breaks in the set, but they did little to affect the inevitable flow of the show which continued even after the apparent final song of the set, Rollin’ Balls. Vents offered up acapella versions of Virus and Hard to Kill to round up the night.

It was a shame that the cold prevented a larger crowd from enjoying this show. Vents is definitely a force on the Aussie hip-hop circuit and his powerful, thought provoking lyrics make him stand out from the crowd. As I stepped out into the minus 2.5 degree Canberra evening, I saw the happy faces outside the Transit Bar. Somehow, even the cold, couldn’t hold back the ever-growing juggernaut that is the Aussie hip-hop scene and this is something to smile about.