Gig Review: Run The Jewels | Festival Hall | Melbourne | 4.1.18

Friday, January 5, 2018

Two of the world’s biggest hip-hop collectives are in town, and Melbourne’s Festival Hall was the place to be. And if Run The Jewels and Flatbush ZOMBiES was your first gig of the year, everything else that follows in the coming months will be a hard act to follow.

First up for the night was Brooklyn’s very own Flatbush ZOMBiES, featuring Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice and Erick Arc Elliott. They are without a doubt the most talented hip-hop trio in the game right now. They brought the energy from the get-go, playing a set consisting of mostly their tracks from their highly acclaimed 2016 album 3001: A Laced Odyssey. They burst out onto the stage playing ‘The Odyssey’ one-by-one as their verses appeared. No disrespect to Run The Jewels, but Flatbush Zombies came out on stage performing as if they were co-headling the show. They poured an abundance of energy into getting the crowd amped up, and with the amount of people I observed screaming the lyrics, they had a big turn-out. They weren’t too enthusiastic about playing their older highly-spinned stuff like ‘New Phone, Who Dis?’ — which they skimmed over and stopped playing after one minute, before pronouncing that the crowd were probably tired of the song anyway. They were excited to launch into unreleased music, which was positively received. With an appearance at this year’s Coachella impending, Flatbush ZOMBiES are set to take over 2018. 

Run The Jewels came out to a room full of pistol and fists. They’re one of the most loved hip hop acts in the world, and it’s hard for anyone to find anything negative to say about them. Not only are Killer Mike and El-P both as talented as the other — El-P gets a couple of extra gold stars for his wizardry on production — they’re about promoting the positive and are determined to make our shitty world a better place. This included their message about consent, and insistence that women should feel safe at an RTJ show, their words on mental wellbeing, as well taking time to tell the crowd that they should ensure that the people in their life know that they love them. Another emotional moment was when Killer Mike discussed the impact losing his mum has had on him during the last six month. The realness they bring on stage is inspiring and they prove that along with creating amazing music, they’re two people going through the exact same emotions as their fans. 

Now to the music. The last time they were here, they didn’t have RTJ3, so the show had a mix of their three albums, with the most songs in the set coming from their most recent release. It’s hard to pick one track that received more love than the others, because everything they played got love. ‘Call Ticketron’ was played early on, they also performed other newer tracks such as ‘Hey Kids’, ‘Stay Old’, ‘Don’t Get Captured’, ‘Panther Like a Panther (Miracle Mix)’, as well as a few others. As I mentioned, they squeezed in some of their older favourites such as ‘Oh My Darling Don't Cry’, ‘Close Your Eyes’, ‘36" Chain’ and ‘Sea Legs’, where they got the crowd to create ocean waves with their hands. 

RTJ’s shows go beyond your typical hip-hop gig, they’re an experience. It’s a guarantee that you’re going to get a spectacular spectacle of A+ music, but you’re also going to get two artists who truly care and have respect for their legion of dedicated fans. 

Written by Amy Smolcic
Photos by Kristy Smolcic

GALLERY: Run The Jewels | Festival Hall | Melbourne | 4.1.18
Featuring: Flatbush Zombies
Photographer: Kristy Smolcic