The Forum theatre is undoubtedly one of Melbourne’s best live venues and has been opening its doors to hip-hop shows for quite some time now, so much so that we don’t have to get metal detected any more (ie Talib Kweli, 2007)! It’s overbearing size, blue lit ceiling and gargoyles create a good contrast to tonight’s proceedings, a fairly well packed out audience of heads, lads, hipsters and even the odd lady. I was also here last night as for the ‘Future Now’ show as part of the Melbourne Jazz Festival featuring Jose James, Taylor McFerrin and The Robert Glasper Experiment. Even a couple of days later I’m too scared to check the amount of transactions I’ve made there over the course of the weekend.
I actually caught this same double billing of Ghostface and Doom at London’s Roundhouse Theatre in November of last year. But plagued with sound issues and a strange scheduling of 45 minute solo sets then 45 together, that only resulted in DOOM doing a verse over cream (still dope), I was pretty set to see this go down properly tonight. Confusion over the set times (the promoter utilising the ‘subject to change clause’ and having the evening’s proceedings go down as DOOM, Chino XL and Ghostface Killah) meant I arrived a short while into DOOM’s set, where he was on stage solo, not even a DJ in sight. It was hard to tell if he was even performing or just getting the crowd going, which he was succeeding in doing. He seems to have picked up his game in the last couple of years, definitely a long way from the ‘Doomposters’ he had become notorious for sending out in his place. To top it all off he was rocking a Queensland State of Origin jersey and the crowd loved every minute of it, backing track and all.
Chino XL is a unique individual to say the least, given his physique and looks of a WWE wrestler, his MENSA membership and history as a notorious battle MC. None of those things interest me but he manages to pull off one of the better live performances I’ve seen in recent years. Stand out tracks included the Dilla produced ‘Don’t Say a Word’ (where I first heard of him) and his feature on Immortal Technique’s ‘The 3rd World’ LP ‘Lick Shot’s’ complete with an opening sample of the single version of The Beatles ‘Revolution 1’. Overall a surprisingly good show, that ended with him wading through the crowd rapping but not choke slamming or emptying a bin on someone.
Ghostface Killah came out a short time later, all guns blazing complete with Killah Priest and one of the other guys from T.H.E.O.D.O.R.E Unit that isn’t Trife. Complete with a Purple Champion sweat, Tony Starks proceeded to rock the crowd through his enormous catalogue and the standard ODB and Rae tracks for good measure. My quote of the night straight from Ghostdini’s dusted dome was “I want y’all motherfuckers to jump so high that it’s pathetic”. Anyone who has ever caught a Wu show either singular or plural will know that no matter how strong they start out, they generally fizzle out into not much. With no appearance from DOOM, only mentions of each other, for two guys who are supposed to have an album coming out together it seemed odd that they wouldn’t perform together.
That said, big ups to Slingshot for another successful tour and props for not having it at The Espy.
-PHOTOS BY CRAIG JOHNSTONE