Friday night saw Mantra hit up the Evelyn Hotel as part of his Telling Scenes Tour, supported by a purely Melbourne lineup of L-FRESH The Lion and Dylan Joel. It was a night full of good times, beer and a shit load of paper planes.

Up first was the fresh faced East Melly skater, Dylan Joel. I was quite taken aback by how clear and direct he was; the lyrics were a brilliant blend of intellect, truth and excitement. Dylan brought a tight set featuring some even tighter bangers including ‘Leveled’, ‘The Cool Kids’ and a strongly spoken acapella version of his hit song ‘Yep’. He is a conscious and enthusiastic rapper with a classic, yet not clichéd, Aussie sound, backed by some solid beats full of trumpets and pianos with some heavy bass and electronic twists.

The new face of Australian hip hop, L-FRESH The LION, was up next. This Sikh rapper (no pun intended) brought enough soul for the whole room to feed on, providing people with an engaging and empowering music experience. Committed to spreading love and peace with songs like ‘Truth’, L-FRESH teaches listeners not to believe all they hear and see, encouraging freethinking and mindfulness. He also flexed his skill as a wordsmith with a well-placed freestyle straight off the top of the dome. L-FRESH brought it straight back to the style he knows and loves with a standout track, ‘Waiting’, which got the crowd and himself dancing around, and by changing up the beat and slowing down the tempo towards the end of the track he really made his words resonate and stick in your head.

With the music already blaring, Mantra ran on stage and straight into his song ‘Learn Your Language’. He didn’t seem to be able to stand still: running back and forth, jumping on speakers, hanging off the roof and rapping directly to the crowd. During his song ‘Flightpath’, Mantra urged his fans to chuck as many paper planes at DJ Flagrant as possible and for the ones with writing on them, which was a large majority, he would turn into a freestyle! He ended up with all sorts of words and phrases, using them in a ridiculously long freestyle. He ended it with a massive smile stating that the crowd was a “creative bunch of mo’ fuckers”.

After pouring himself and DJ Flagrant a glass of wine to cool down (and also because, as everyone knows, a drunk DJ is a happy DJ) he headed into ‘Loudmouth’ and the crowd went fucking nuts! I felt like it was some sort of hardcore or punk gig the way people were jumping around throwing themselves towards the roof. Mantra really knows how to get people’s emotions stirring, immediately bringing down the tempo with ‘Quicksilver’, assisted by the beautiful Simone Page Jones who joined him on stage to help out with the incredibly personal song.
Not knowing what to expect next, I saw him laughing as he pulled two people up on stage dressed as little Mantras, complete with crooked caps and drawn on pen goatees. He then busted out the set closer, ‘As The Sun Goes Down’. Filled with heavy bass and ardent lyrics it was a perfect cap to the set. After playing with the crowd and hearing a massive Mantra chant he came running back out on stage, beer in hand, singing the fascinating ‘Freak Show’ while the whole room bounced along to the heavy beat full of prodigious trumpets.
Mantra puts on an awesome live show and it’s clear to me that listening only to his recorded tracks will only give you half the picture of this growing legend; he is a true performer, zealous, well-spoken and thoughtful. I highly suggest catching a show when you can and maybe you can throw some paper planes or even grab a drink with the rising legend. It’s well worth it.

Jordon Buckens


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