Live instrumentation in hip hop can be a two-way street. While it makes the music more accessible to an audience who may not know much about the genre, it can also limit an emcee’s movement on stage, especially when the band is playing at a small venue like Ya-Ya’s.
This could explain Daniel Ray’s stage presence as he performed the tracks from his debut album, The Balance. Rather than jumping around all over the place, he stood in one spot, limiting his movement to the odd hand gesture and keeping his microphone firmly in its stand.
Some might think this sounds dull, but that could not be further from the truth. Ray and his band were entertaining in their own way. The Perth rapper remained in a kind of Zen serenity between songs, calmly interacting with the crowd, and when he was performing his music he gave off a rock star vibe, projecting his vocals onto the audience with assertiveness but no aggression.
The band consisted of a guitarist, a singer, a drummer, a bassist, a keyboardist, and a violinist. They all worked well together. When one of them wasn’t required for a song, they still sang along and danced on stage, showcasing their unity as an ensemble.
For most of the set, Ray played his sadder tracks that dealt with the hardships he has faced. Tired of Fighting, Running Away, and Get it Back were all played in close proximity to one another, making for a pretty dour set. However, Ray addressed this, admitting to the crowd that he had been through a lot of difficulties. He ended the set on a lighter note playing the more upbeat Freedom and History, the latter of which he had the crowd singing along to.
Newcomer to the Perth hip hop scene, Phonemes was the support act for the evening. He was joined by another new face in Gweedz. The two seemed to really enjoy their stage time and they knew how to work a crowd, but they were a little sloppy in places. The pair would benefit from more preparation before their next gig.
By Ciaran Johns