BLUESFEST DAY 1: The day hip hop arrived to Byron Bay
HIP HOP arrived to Byron Bay on Thursday, it descended like a deity to the Mojo stage at the first day of Bluesfest 2016.
Hippies, bogans, baby boomers, children and some yuppies witnessed in awe how a group of young fans between 15 and 29 enjoyed the Kendrick Lamar show that closed the first night of the festival.
Lamar's hip hop is revolutionary, creative, different, and for many middle-class Australians the urban US African American references were a bit too much. Some revellers left mid-show with faces showing confusion, others left the Mojo tent dancing, pretending they knew the songs they were running away from.
But most stayed and had a blast.
Kendrick's show followed the style of his recent shows in New Zealand, Melbourne and Sydney: minimalist, strong, powerful non-stop shows where the music was the centrepiece.
Lamar's eleven Grammy nominations and five wins were hard to understand for Australians.
Yes, there is a local hip hop scene that produces music of high quality, but that is rarely heard outside the confines of Triple J radio. Most Australians over 30 have heard of Kendrick but are unable to name more than one of his songs.
Kendrick Lamar's music offering is truly revolutionary. By adding elements of bossa nova, progressive jazz, even psychedelic rock, he has expanded the limits of urban music and in the process installed himself as a favourite of young audiences.
A day for the boys
Ballina blues/rock muso Marshall O'Kell started up the proceeds, after the traditional Welcome to Country.
Then an invasion of African American male performers fell on Bluesfest with a thump that woke up the audiences and got them into festival mode.
D'Angelo, The Wailers, Con Brio, Blind Boy Paxton and Fantastic Negrito were highlights of the first day, plus Tweedy, Harts, Kamasi Washington and Lukas Nelson.
Despite the fantastic shows by Rhiannon Giddens and Nai Pail from Hiatus Kaiyote, the day belonged to the boys.
On his very first visit to Australia, Fantastic Negrito showed why he has received national attention in the US in only two years of career.
Xavier Dphrepaulezz had to leave a promising career in music in 2007 after a horrific car accident.
Back then his stage name was Xavier.
It took him almost a decade to recover and come back to music professionally.
If there is something to get out of his first performances in Australia is that he is a force to reckon in music and, just as Nahko Bear in 2014 and Alabama Shakes in 2015, Fantastic Negrito is the artist to discover this year.
What's on Friday?
Who is Nahko Bear? This American singer songwriter follows no stereotypes: a third Latino, a third Native American and raised in Hawaii, Nahko has been in Byron Bay before and local audiences love him.
He was at the Bentley Blockade in 2014 with Xavier Rudd in a strong show of support from a number of Bluesfest artists.
Other artists not to miss on Friday are:
- Elle King - Mojo stage
- City and Colour - Mojo stage
- The Mick Fleetwood Blues band - Crossroads stage
- Steve Earle & The Dukes - Jambalaya stage
- Rhiannon Giddens - Delta stage
- Con Brio - Delta stage
- Brotherhood of the Blues - Juke Joint stage
- Mojo Juju - Juke Joint Stage