By Tom Munday
From Run-DMC to N****s with Attitude, professional hip-hop has carved its way into pop culture and the record books. This multi-billion dollar genre has brought underrated and underground artists into the spotlight. One group with a kick-ass reputation is Public Enemy. Sporting informative and engaging catch phrases, and catchy hit tracks, this rap mega-group is bringing everything they’ve got to the land down under.
As part of their 2014 Australian tour, Public Enemy proved to Perth on Friday, February 28th, that they’re the best hip-hop group in history. After their performance at the Chevron Festival Gardens this year, I believe that they really are. Indeed, this group is nothing short of extraordinary whilst on stage. Their eclectic antics and memorable lyrics shine through every fondly thought-out message and ‘bromantic’ moment.
The concert itself was elevated by its setting. The Chevron Festival Gardens, part of this year’s Perth International Arts Festival, made its mark before the music began. Walking in, the ramp-like entrance turns into a sprawling and romantic venue. Bright, green grass illuminates the venue’s electrifying aesthetic. The comforting ambiance raged on throughout the night. Alcoholic drinks poured out into the crowd and people nodded emphatically to one another in approval.
Walking into the main stage area is similar to entering the gates of hell. The atmospheric lighting system shines upon you like none other. The blinding lights form just one cognitive part of a much grander system. Fortunately, Public Enemy’s support act, Perth’s own ‘The Brow,’ (formerly The Brow Horn Orchestra), commendably opened this highly anticipated concert. The local group, continually praising Public Enemy, provided a pulsating warm-up performance.
Playing their own seminal tracks, the group embraced Public Enemy’s existence more than anyone possibly could. The crowd, turning out to honour the headline act, became entranced by Brow’s emphatic sounds and pumping rhythms. This enjoyable and vibrant ensemble performed their best hits in front of an intimidating crowd. Mixing up jazz and hip-hop tracks, the group established themselves as one of WA’s most enjoyable groups.
Despite this, past the eight o’clock mark, people began to murmur and move around impatiently. The bartender could only do so much to keep this crowd relaxed. Thankfully, shortly before 9 o’clock, Public Enemy’s warm-up guy Drew kicked this concert into overdrive. “Real hip-hop is heeeere!” he continuously yelled out to the already packed crowd.
Then, after the elongated wait, Public Enemy’s front man Chuck D ran onto the stage. It was a sight to behold. With his explicit lyrics and perplexing rap skills, this energetic artist boosted the experience. His hit track ‘Revolution’ contained the ferocity of a blistering upper cut. The scorching lightshow turned a frustrated mosh pit into a wondrous organism. That was fantastic, but what happened next was even better.
Holding their breaths in anticipation, audience members roared when the hype master himself, Flavor Flav stepped out. Decked in a skintight hoodie, Flav wowed the packed theatre with his manic dance moves and raw energy. After taking off his prized hoodie, he gave his loyal followers exactly what they wanted. With a small clock dangling around his neck, his timing could not have been better. The rest of the night belonged to him. Continually yelling: “Flavor Flav!” and Yeah boiiiii!”, the performer openly embraced his ecstatic West Australian fans.
Thankfully, energetic vibes never stopped dripping off of Chuck D and Flav. Their performance of ‘Public Enemy No. 1’ was a remarkable sight. With lyrics being rattled off at lightning speed, the group’s glorious ensemble and startling talents never ceased to amaze. Flav, refusing to take his cap off up until the final song, was an enjoyably lively lead vocalist. Long before hit track ‘Harder Than You Think’ came along, his audience was already perplexingly entranced.
Admittedly, it was their hit tracks that delivered some of the night’s best moments. The group’s engaging personas and inspiring rhythms lifted everyone’s spirits. Enriching the theatre’s atmospheric surroundings, the group continued to bolster this unforgettable night. As a type of ‘intermission’, Flav allowed loyal crewmember DJ Lord to turn this concert into an exhilarating rollercoaster ride. Lord, mixing White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’ with Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ showcased Public Enemy’s extraordinary vision and well-known influences. His immense skillset brought a refreshing adrenaline rush to this already overwhelming event.
However, despite the immense entertainment value, the night was all about bringing people together. Public Enemy, having promoted Australian DJs and rappers since our music industry’s humble beginnings, admitted to loving this peaceful city of ours (“P.E.Earth!”).
After their rousing rendition of ‘Fight the Power,’ the concert finished with a heartening turn. With middle fingers held high throughout the venue, racism and separatism were heartily eviscerated.
Arguably, this highly anticipated concert completely consumed the true importance of The Perth International Arts Festival. Public Enemy was given freedom to evolve well beyond their harsher roots. Summing up valuable ideas and important issues, the group’s gleeful cries came off as a cognitive aspect of a much larger plan. Let us hope this plan grows more impressive with each gig.