Red Hill Auditorium welcomed us on a chilly Saturday night with its beautiful views of the city and magical, romantic lighting.
The anticipated night was opened by Spooky Sushi, two DJs standing behind a deck, amateurishly mixing pop songs while talking to each with zero crowd engagement. People around were confused at first, convinced it must have just been a soundcheck then disheartened when it became obvious this was in fact the opening act.
After two long hours of what felt like watching DJs at a teenage house party, Kira Puru arrived. It was a completely welcome change to the atmosphere and she was greeted with a really warm welcome. Puru started out very pitchy but saved it with her entertaining banter. She made jokes and several odd loud squeals with many awkward to watch dance moves. It was off key in parts but a few people got up and danced and it provided a much better feel from the two hours prior. Her stage presence was fun and she cheekily introduced a song as being about sexual encounters on an airplane. Puru really found her footing towards the end and delivered her two hit tracks Tension and Molotov. While she was light, enjoyable fun to casually dance to, it had the feel of an average pub night gig.
Kwame then bounced onto stage and delivered some much needed energy. The Sydney rapper is an onstage force who’s constant bouncing while his Brockhampton-style sound sells out shows on the east coast. He delivered his hits Clouds and Wow and engaged consistently with the crowd. However it wasn’t his crowd, it was to the wrong audience. It appeared no one knew who he was and when asking the audience to singalong with his hits not many people new any of the words. Perhaps this was due to his name being released on the line up just two days before. It’s unfortunate because Kwame fans would have been absolutely treated to his well delivered, high energy set and it felt like a missed opportunity in a terrific venue.
At this stage there was an undercurrent of impatience throughout the audience. Four hours plus of waiting for Peking Duk with openers that didn’t seem to feel compatible or well suited for the crowd, and everyone trying to be in the standing area which was far too tight for the crowd which resulted in bodies pressed tight against each other, everyone unable to dance, shoving and several fights breaking out. If I wasn’t there reviewing Peking Duk I would have left.
Finally, they made an impressive theatrical entrance. They loudly blasted the 20th Century Fox introduction and a snippet of the Star Wars theme song to mark May the 4th (be with you). Opening with Fake Magic, Peking Duk began their highly anticipated performance with Michaela Baranov’s beautiful, strong vocals. They continued to utilise her a lot as she provided background on many more tracks in the night.
They came in really strong with Wasted impressing the formerly impatient crowd. Kwame came back out providing lyrics for Say My Name possibly winning him new fans, and Kira Puru returned for an upbeat version of Blur’s Song 2. They then delivered crowd favourites Lets You Down and Feels Like before finishing on High.
Sadly though, even after playing all their hits and with all the extra novelties, a beer sculling contest, pyrotechnics, streamer confetti being shot towards the audience and amusing banter with each other it was lacklustre at best. Many people seemed to lose interest early on. This set would have worked better as a sideline at a festival and didn’t seem to work well as a headlining act in this space. That coupled with the audience wanting to stand in an area they didn’t fit, what felt like a long wait with little reward, the ticket price and effort to get to the venue, left many punters disappointed to have given up an entire Saturday night.
Photos by Linda Dunjey