27 May, Factory Theatre

Australian hip hop, once known as a white male club, has evolved in leaps and bounds, imaginatively overlapping with jazz, EDM, reggae, dub and world music. A group from Sydney’s inner-West who are the perfect exponent of this fusion is the three-piece outfit True Vibenation.

The trio have played countless shows around Australia, but last year was a milestone for the band as they made their debut at the legendary Glastonbury music festival in the UK and followed that up with their first European tour. On top of their epic overseas journey, True Vibenation managed to fit in a national tour with Thievery Corporation and Ozomatli, adding to their already impressive musical achievements.

Consisting of twin brothers Vuli and Moody who are both MCs and play saxophone and trumpet, plus their charismatic DJ Klue who acts as hype man and second saxophonist.

This year the boys have been working committedly on new music but decided to come out of their home studio and play a gig for their loyal fans and friends on Saturday night at the Factory Floor in Marrickville.

Opening the night was DJ Krystal Diola warming up the early comers with some soulful tunes and making sure everyone was getting into the true vibes early on.

Next up were Project Collective Ska, a nine-piece band from Sydney with an amazing horn section, whose music was undeniably fun, making the crowd dance with their energetic performance. They were the perfect opener for True Vibenation and definitely primed the audience to dance their socks off to some awesome ska compositions.

When the main event took to the stage, they straightaway acknowledged it had been a while since they performed in Sydney and got on with the job at hand, opening the set with their Fela Kuti-inspired track No More.

If you’ve been to a True Vibenation gig before you would know that they have some set routines which are paramount to their live shows, such as their medley horn jam covering classic hip hop instrumentals like What’s Golden, Still D.R.E, Touch The Sky and Not Many, to mention but a few.

They also invite their fans to participate in their live performance with a genius invention called the Human Drum Machine, which requires six members of the audience to come on stage and hold a MIDI cable that creates different drum sounds when you palm each other.

As much as True Vibenation take inspiration from their African heritage, they are also inspired by their contemporaries such as the Blue Mountains’ Hermitude and Perth’s Ukiyo and they included a remix of each of their songs in the set list.

A couple of brand new songs were also introduced to the audience such as the infectious Squat that made everyone drop low on the floor, and a song with Sydney soul singer Natalie Slade that had the positive and important message of seeing ourselves in others rather than fearing people who are different to us.

The show’s highlight songs were Ape Shit (because it gets the crowd acting like monkeys) and Running for its infectious dub rhythms, adding a healthy dose of low-end dubstep bass where the guys walk like robots and react to the thunderous low-end bass lines.

It’s hard not to feel good after leaving a True Vibenation show, as it is music that feeds your soul and gets you pumped about seeing another of their gigs. As someone who has seen them countless of times I can say hand on heart that they’re only getting better with their creativity; each new song they release is raising their standards and reaffirming Australian hip hop as music that is global and inclusive.