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March 11, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Review: Home Brew / Tommy Ill / Lips

Lips started the evening with a set at odds with what the masses had gone to see, but played a fine opener which tided over the early arrivers and highlighted why she’s an exciting musician to watch. next up was local rapper Tommy Ill, a Wellington favourite whose packed shows at Mighty and San Fran feed off the audience’s back-and-forth lyric interplay. In that sense, the show was let down somewhat by a primarily first-year crowd unfamiliar with all but the samples (Annah Mac, Carly rae Jepsen).
Despite this, Tommy’s upbeat tongue-in-cheek take on swag rap went down well helped by a well-structured set, the usual fucked-up hype men having been streamlined. kelvin neal’s stewardship was an excellent foil for an increasingly confident front man whose live experience has improved every time I’ve seen him.

Relative to last year’s headline O-Week act (Mt Eden) the Hunter Lounge felt empty come headline-time, but this was made up for by the good-natured, excited crowd. The ZM crew came out to pump up the masses, a needless endeavour considering the constant “home Brew” chants. Enter Tom Scott, frontman of home Brew, to get them off the stage: “Fuck ZM! Fuck ZM! We’ll introduce our own shit, be back soon.” The opening contrarian streak continued to be displayed throughout the night, with an taunts to the audience of “Fuck you, Wellington”, and “They don’t know this song”. Unlike Tommy Ill’s earlier set, the crowd knew their lines, creating an energy palpable from the opening songs.

The first half of home Brew’s set saw a string of hits off their self-titled debut album strung off and reinterpreted by the live band; an accomplished live band at that, keeping a tight rhythm through the walking basslines which carried nearly every song. A Sublime-esque dub take on ‘Benefit’ followed ‘Alcoholic’, and segued cleanly into drug anthem ‘yellow Snot Funk’. It was around this time haz began passing beers into the crowd, and Tom’s sculling of his beer was met with the loudest cheers of the night. ‘Alcoholic’ was prefaced with “everyone says we’re just alcoholics”— an image Scott tried to dissuade in our interview a few weeks ago, but one that he was happy to play on with a crowd only too happy to accept the glorification of drinking culture. home Brew’s live set and on-stage personae ignores a significant section of their work—that which tries to reconcile low times with the good times—and I’m left wondering if they’ve taken the easy way out with “fuck John key” chants, rather than including much material for the second, darker half of the home Brew album.

The second half of the show saw @Peace member Lui Tuiasau come on stage, and older Home Brew tracks mixed with newer Girl Songs EP material. Lui T’s stage presence was immense, and the crowd was never lost during the mid-set lull. The highlight was Tom’s delivery of ‘Some Shit I Just Wrote’, a multisyllabic assault which belied his claimed drunkenness as he effortlessly switched between double- and triple-time rhyme schemes with ease. I don’t think it’s a hard argument to make for Tom as new Zealand’s premier lyricist; his most recent work displays a complexity and dexterity that’s technically accomplished but remains accessible, relevant, and
resonates with the audience.

The crowd left sated, and this show has got to be considered the highlight of O-Week so far.


Chris McIntyre

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