More Photos: The Utopia Tour
“If you don’t know we were sent to kill. Some have mentioned and said we’re ill.” It’s 2011. I’ve switched on Channel V just in time to witness this line escaping the mouth of a tattooed white guy wearing a Will Smith t-shirt. He’s rapping over an unusual musical cocktail of indie guitar, robotic synth and heavy bass, and I find myself growing more and more intrigued with every bass drop. Little do I know that it’s 360, aka Matt Colwell, and he’s rapping his single, ‘Killer’ from his soon-to-be double platinum album, Falling & Flying. Flash forward three years to Friday September 5, 2014, and I am navigating my way through an assorted crowd of avid Aussie hip hop fans that are swarming Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion to catch a glimpse of the Melbourne rapper.
Despite my prior assumptions about hip hop shows – rowdy youths stirring trouble and defacing the bathroom, which has resulted in certain venues in Sydney banning hip hop artists from playing their venues – the atmosphere is extremely relaxed. The crowd was a rather eclectic bunch, unlike other music genres where almost every person in the crowd is wearing an identical uniform. I was also particularly surprised to observe police officers patrolling the crowd, and checking the IDs of patrons holding plastic cups and cans (myself included).
The bill for 360’s Utopia tour resembles that of a mini festival, featuring local acts Pez and Miracle, along with LA MC Hopsin, who joined the tour following the incessant pleas from Sixty fans on social media, and infamous British battle rapper Lunar C. Opening the show, Lunar C sets the tone for the night with his unique blend of wit and rhyme-spitting ability. Ghanaian-born, and 360 collaborator, Miracle follows, and is reminiscent of a young Kanye with his fusion of hip hop, dance and progressive elements. His nostalgic, uplifting tracks are enough to inspire a warm, fuzzy feeling inside, and awkward bops and jigs are inevitable.
Next up is Pez, and the crowd transforms into a sea of flailing limbs, as he shakes things up with tracks like ‘The Festival Song’ and ‘The Game’. Fans are red-faced and panting by the time Hopsin takes the stage, and it’s all abs and aggressive rhymes as the shirtless MC defies the genre – exploring the need for social change and his faith with ‘Ill Mind Of Hopsin’ and ‘How You Like Me Now’. His stage presence is nothing short of explosive as he proceeds to crowd surf, and even stands on the shoulders of a punter during his short set, before scrambling back onto the stage and scolding a crowd member for being a little too hands-y. His Eminem–style rap certainly stands out amid the predominantly local hip hop acts, but judging from the amount of arms reaching toward the stage, and bobbing heads, he is popular among the diverse horde of Sixty fans.
After a short interval, the man of the hour takes the stage. Decked out in a sleeveless grey hoodie, with an inverted cross emblazoned on the front and a snapback, 360 dives straight into ‘Still Rap’ from his recently released third album Utopia. A middle finger to the haters, 360 raps, “All these jealous motherf**kers are old now, saying don’t rap and go back to my old sound,” against a backdrop of catchy synth and rolling drums. Unlike his predecessor, Hopsin, who exuded ego during his performance, Sixty is much more humble as he throws back to the days of Falling & Flying with dance-heavy hit ‘Run Alone’, which evokes a wave of pitchy accompanying vocals from punters.
Fans are fortunate enough to witness a slew of 360’s collaborative tracks in all their glory, as he pulls Pez, Miracle and Lunar C back on stage to lend their vocals to ‘Live It Up’, ‘Sixavelli’ and ‘Eddie Jones’. Impressively, a majority of the crowd sings along to Sixty’s run of fresh tracks. Having only been released in June this year, Utopia, has clearly been a staple on fans’ iPods. Meanwhile, there is a collective buzz in the room, as the 6’4’’ emcee works the crowd, taking time between tracks to tell fans that he never allowed the haters to discourage him, and if anyone ever tells you that you can’t do something tell them to “f**k off!” Naturally, the last comment inspires thunderous applause and cheers from the audience, and Sixty looks pretty chuffed with the response.
As an artist who wears his heart on his tattoo sleeve, with a tiny treble clef on his left cheek and the phrase “timeless” on his knuckles, it’s refreshing to see that 360 remains just as open and candid when speaking to his fans on stage, as he does during his performance of ‘Spiral Down’ and crowd favourite ‘Child’. Bouncing straight into the Daniel Johns-assisted ‘Purple Waterfall’, it’s during this song that Sixty’s rap chops really shine. Exploring the effect of drugs, the trippy track is enough to silence anyone that has ever labeled 360 as a “pop singer” – his flow is on point.
Melbourne pop singer, and long-time collaborator, Gossling joins the emcee to close the show, lending her sweet vocals to ‘Boys Like You’ and ‘Price Of Fame’. The crowd is very kumbaya, singing and allowing the ebb and flow of synth and drums to dictate their bodies. I feel like Delta Goodrem at a Jay and Bey concert, but Sixty’s magnetic music makes dancing compulsory. Overall, 360 delivered a killer (nudge, nudge) set. He remained humble and earnest throughout the entire performance; which was a refreshing change from the super-egos of a majority of rappers today. Also, he portrays himself as a regular guy, foremost, which makes his music relatable, and is probably the reason why his fan base is so diverse.
Tour Photos: The Utopia Tour