Aloe Blacc, Friday January 6, TRAK
It’s been a long time coming for California’s Aloe Blacc, from his humble beginnings as a rapper-singer hybrid to his current worldwide acclaim. An example of talent defying industry politics, his full skill set is now being realised by a wider audience. As we welcome the year of the supposed apocalypse the gathered masses at Trak Bar in Toorak kicked off things in care-free style with some nourishing soul music courtesy of one of the genre’s saviours. Since his last performance in Oz, at Good Vibrations in February 2011, Blacc’s reputation and the resonance of his brilliant Good Things album have grown even more, including with Aussie music fans.
Getting things started, local treasure Electric Empire weaved their ‘70s inspired soul magic to an appreciate audience. Much like the headliner they draw from a previous decade for inspiration rather than rely on it as a crutch. The charisma and silky smooth vocals of singers Jason Heerah and Dennis Dowlut were undeniable as they roared through their set. The six piece ensemble remained air-tight from beginning to end and undoubtedly made some new fans. While her relevance as a current performer may be questionable, having not released anything in some time, our own Maya Jupiter fit in perfectly with her blend of hip hop, Latin vibes and reggae tinges. Bringing genuine energy to the stage she kept the tempo going before the man of the hour emerged to roaring approval.
Decked out in a stylish black suit, Aloe Blacc exuded what many modern performers don’t - passion. That infectious energy was returned by the adoring crowd as they hung on his every note. His ‘60s-tinged tales of financial woes, social unrest and lost love were bolstered by a pitch-perfect band. Avoiding the trap of replicating the original recordings note-for-note the ensemble added extra muscle to the compositions and were not afraid to go off on tangents, while drawing everything back together. There were times where it felt as if I had been transported to another decade, while still feeling firmly planted in 2012. Personal favourite Politician bristled with funky, Blaxploitation-esque menace, while still brimming with optimism. For many Aloe’s lively cover of the Velvet Underground’s Femme Fatale was the highlight. As expected his transcendent hit I Need A Dollar tore the house down, as soon as those opening piano strokes permeated the venue. While he may have needed a dollar you couldn’t put a price on his performance.
LOVED: Pretty much everything.
HATED: Standing for so long, but it was worth it in the end.
DRANK: Little Creatures.
BY ANDREW ‘HAZARD’ HICKEY
Photo credit: Anna Kanci