Live Review: 360 HiFi

18 June 2012 | 1:42 pm | Brendan Hitchens

There’s the arrogant emcee 360, who at over six feet tall commands the stage.

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Blue Mountains-based duo Hermitude walk on stage paying homage to Flavor Flav. Luke Dubs has an iPad around his neck and El Gusto an MPC. More constructive than a wall clock, they use their accessories to great effect, adding the instrumentation to their opening song. The gesture is very much an introduction to what is to come; original hip hop featuring turntables, keyboards and MPCs all played live. It's in stark contrast to the headline act, and in many ways warrants the closing spot. Single, Speak Of The Devil, has the room dancing along and those previously unacquainted with the group are now converted. When reproduced live and off the cuff, their music reaches another tier, not so much Australian hip hop, but rather world class. As the set nears its conclusion, Gusto positions his MPC around his neck again and walks to the front of the stage, joking, “This is just so you know we're not back there checking emails.” There's no need for justification. Hermitude can do as they please.

He's sold out the majority of dates on his national tour, and tonight is no exception for 360. The Hi-Fi Bar is at capacity, with many in attendance sporting his merchandise. As the electro beat of Killer kicks in, he marches on stage. Over the course of the set his multiple personae emerge, albeit unintentionally. There's the arrogant emcee 360, who at over six feet tall commands the stage. With one foot on the foldback and the microphone pointed to the crowd, he perpetuates the rapper stereotype. Foul-mouthed and in your face, his songs follow suite. The deregulatory Died This Way, boastful Hammerhead and the ruthless Shutterbug would have comedian Chris Lilley (spotted in the crowd) and his gangster alter ego S.mouse proud of his performance. Then there's the other extreme. Matt Colwell, the reluctant musician. Bravado stripped away, he candidly opens up about his struggles with depression and alcohol through song. He's in his shell and requires hypeman Bam Bam to muster elation. Colwell dedicates Child to his family and is visibly moved while performing I Hope You Don't Mind. Both characters have their place on record, but don't necessarily translate live. Unlike Hermitude, there's a lack of spontaneity to the set and it seems that one key character is missing tonight: the freestyling battle rapper 360 who cut his teeth with humour and unpredictability.