Fresh off the release of their eighth studio album The Great Expanse, Hilltop Hoods took over Perth’s RAC Arena causing it to near burst at the seams. No easy feat and usually reserved for the likes of international superstars. The crowd was a mixed bag of young, old and families with children. School mums, suburban Dads and screaming teenage girls all equally exhilarated to be present. Not the standard audience you see at your regular, everyday hip hop gig.
Opening the night was local Perth based Grime emcee, Shadow. His EP, Cream was released this year by Golden Era Records, which was formed by Hilltop Hoods. This has swiftly propelled him onto the current Aussie hip hop stage and it makes sense for them to be promoting him as an artist. He delivered high energy, impeccable timing with just enough bounce and personality to win over new fans, his sound reminiscent of Scribe with Skepta undertones. A high energy set with fun banter to ignite energy for the night ahead.
Aria nominated Mojo Juju presented on stage resembling a far more attractive Kim Jong Un wearing tennis gear. She delivered a heartfelt acknowledgement of country then opened her mouth and bathed us with a delicious, soulful blend of funky soul with a light peppering of hip hop. There were moments of almost cruise ship lounge feels, but significantly radder. Heart Is A YoYo was her standout track. Equally impressive and stirring was the politically driven and important Native Tongue. Her lyrics are radical and needed in our current racial climate. She is not only an exceptional vocalist but a brilliant songwriter. An interesting bridging choice between Shadow and Hilltop Hoods.
Hilltop Hoods materialised and overwhelming joy emitted from the sea of people was palpable. Also gracing the stage was drummer extraordinaire Plutonic Lab, a three piece mini brass section and DJ Debris. Chase That Feeling opened the set, flooding the arena with that unmissable signature Australiana hip hop. Suffa and Pressure are such comfortable, stellar performers and their experience explains the ease in which they deliver. Providing heavenly backing vocals was Nyassa adorned in a white goddess-like veil. Her voice was strong, haunting and heavily emotive. She was a perfect choice and her vocals added real heart to the experience.
All fans were catered for with a well calculated mix of both old and new crowd favourites served, including the most deafeningly sung along to number, The Nosebleed Section. Light Em Up incited doing exactly that, everyone lighting the entire arena up like stars with phone lights. The track Higher had people’s arms in the air, their faces displaying a spiritual experience while singing to the chorus. Ecca Vandal joined in for her choruses on the singles, Exit Sign and Be Yourself, with rapper Illy also delivering his part before he received an impromptu Happy Birthday cake and song.
The energy was electric, with everyone cheering and waiting impatiently, knowing exactly which favourite song had been omitted from the set.
A few long, noisy minutes flew by and they all reappeared for an encore, humbly thanking the crowd. Perth well known local talent Drapht, along with Shadow, joined them onstage to encore with a remixed edition of Cosby Sweater. The audience were satiated and everyone left having had a great time.
Nine ARIA awards, five number one records, 19 songs in Triple J’s Hottest 100. Hilltop Hoods have not only maintained fans for 25 years but have stayed relevant, consistently growing their fan base. They have found a working formula for their signature Australian neighbourhood hip hop sound with catchy hooks that’s become a staple soundtrack to summer BBQs country wide. They are family friendly, good feels inducing, relatable, suburban Dads. Their shows are a guaranteed great night out for everyone.
Photos by Paul Dowd Photography