Friday nights have always been a haven for the weekend warriors; you’re in a celebratory mood because it’s the end of the week and you’ve got the whole weekend ahead of you. But best of all, you’ve got a full two days to recover from the trouble you get yourself into. Just as well then, with perennial party starters Peking Duk in town for the third show of their sold out national ‘Wasted’ Tour, bringing their brand of high energy electronica to the Hordern Pavilion.
Getting things kicked off on the night however was Sydney-based rapper Kwame, fresh off the back of his Endless Conversations EP which dropped at the end of March. If you’re not familiar with him now, expect to start hearing a lot more about him as he goes from strength to strength after a stellar 12 months which saw him play Groovin the Moo 2018 and make the Hottest 100 shortlist for the first time. I’d liken his style to mix between Frank Ocean and Wiley, showing that Aussie hip hop has a lot more to offer than it’s most well known players. He treated us to rousing renditions of ‘WOW’ and ‘No Time’ before making way for Jack River, who serenaded the crowd with an hour of her unique brand of folk/pop, including ‘Fool’s Gold’.
Then it was time for the main event and having never seen Peking Duk perform before I wasn’t sure what to expect. If Jack River had mellowed the crowd it wasn’t to be for long as straight out the gates they tore through ‘Wasted’, the tour-titled track setting the tone for the rest of the set. Flanked by guest vocalists Ben Woolner (of Safia fame) and Michaela Baranov, and backed by Miami Horror’s Joel Farland, the crowd was treated to a cross section of the duo’s hits, including ‘Fake Magic’ and ‘Let You Down’, and even though we were working up a sweat in the crowd, the boys on stage were given it all they had. It was a powerhouse performance, Adam providing the driving lead guitar and Rueban holding the performance together with his electrifying bass riffs.
Then the night changed lanes, and the stage was cleared, as the Canberra duo jumped behind the decks. Slightly surprising that we didn’t hear more live renditions of their now extensive back catalogue, but considering the DJ pedigree that the two have this was not unwelcome. Here we got to peek behind the curtain and experience the influential sounds that have lent themselves to their own unique style of music. The next 45 minutes was pumped full of crowd favourites, Kanye’s ‘Ni**as in Paris’, Major Lazer’s ‘Pon De Floor’ and Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Backseat Freestyle’ all got plays, whilst The Killer’s ‘Mr. Brightside’ saw the house heaving. Stranger selections like Celine Dion ‘My Heart Will Go On’ played to their larrikin reputation; though keep in mind, Peking Duk were known to bring out Darude’s ‘Sandstorm’ regularly in their earlier days (though sadly not this night). It was an eclectic mix of tracks, but it they didn’t feel out of place, and certainly matched the mood.
Of course, the night wouldn’t be complete without rounding off with massive hits ‘High’ and ‘Take Me Over’, before giving the crowd a first listen to the two new tracks of the ‘Reprisal’ EP, ‘Fire’ and ‘Distant Arizona’. I found out later that the EP comes with a cinematic video that encompasses both tracks, well worth a watch and a listen, as I’m a fan of their newest. Likewise with their live show, normally not a fan of the Hordern as it can seem cavernous and impersonal, but the boys from the nation’s capital managed to fill it with a good crowd, good music and most importantly good vibes that really played to their strengths. They play “State of Origin” game 1 on June 6, then depart for a North America and European tour through to September (see all ticketing info here), but if you get the chance to see them, get involved!