In the last six months, Rocket Bar Rooftop has done us a solid by bringing underground dons to our country town. Artists like Dego, Knxwledge, Bradley Zero and others across an array of genres have battled Hindley Street to play for appreciative fans under its rooftop; and it’s not just Rocket Bar that’s stepped up – venues like Oscar Bar, Sugar and Ancient World are doing a real thing for the music community too. The gratuitous Red Bull Academy have also been offering a regular slate of fresh hip-hop/techno artists for free, and this week they commanded a Detroit to Adelaide special: Apollo Brown.
Bending the crowd to his beats like an accordion, Apollo Brown spun exemplary old-school styled hip-hop at Rocket Bar Rooftop last Saturday night. A resident producer for Mello Music Group, Brown is internationally renown for producing off-centre beats similar to dons J Dilla and Madlib, and the eclectic crew that gathered is emblematic that international talents are appreciated in South Australia. An act like this also boasts that, contrary to the hype, niche music does visit our city without a high asking price, and we do notice.
Brown began his set with luxurious rhythms from his latest album Grandeur, and because the producer is so gifted pulling musical flavours from an array of genres, his stylings could confidently stand alone without vocal interruption. With awards sitting on his shelf from instrumental albums like Thirty Eight, Brown knows what he’s doing with just his harmonics.
The show was also met with a wide demographic of fans from fervent to walk-ins – accumulated across a variety of ages. This included that kid dreaming to make it big on WorldStar, to the hermit who only uses the Internet to suss rare cassettes. Moreover, the variety of faces were tantamount that people in Adelaide crawl out of their holes to attend good music when it arrives.
As Brown moved into the shrill violins and silky thumped drums of Bass Tracks, the crowd reciprocated with physical body bends. The proceeding sounds sampled Masta Ace sweetness and Wu-Tang bangs before departing into Twelve Reasons to Die: The Brown Tape causing a vigorous display of emotion. Confined in a consistent shadow of Browns music and light, each punters face either bounced with a grin or a hardened arm. And to the swimming vocals of Roses – you couldn’t resist tightening your eyes while your heart opened to Browns compositions.
Ending on tracks like Francine – which are so fucking harmonically strong – the artist commanded attention with thick chops and hard drums. But as the night ensued, the crowd dwindled. Evident of the struggles of off-center hip-hop, its possible Apollo Brown’s beat-driven repertoire wasn’t accessible to a mainstream audience.
What isn’t contestable is that Apollo Brown played his decks with flawless simplicity. As the producer bound jazz and soul in a timeless boom bap, he physically and mentally moved the Adelaide crowd to his Detroit sounds. And conclusively, for those looking at new music events over the next coming months, Adelaide can be the milieu for international and talented acts like Apollo Brown – because we’re a lucky feature.