Noname @ 170 Russell, Melbourne, Monday December 11, 2017.
Noname took to 170’s stage to the sound of sweet bird chirps over the venue’s sound system – a fitting introduction to one of the most beatific sets I’ve caught this year.
Kicking off with the gorgeous cacophony of Sunny Duet from her debut Telefone (2016), it’s obvious this Chicagoan rapper’s slam poetry background gives her the kind of understated command that many of her more steamroller contemporaries can’t hope to capture.
Moving effortlessly through Diddy Bop, All I Need, and Smino’s Amphetamine (on which she contributed a verse), Noname’s band came into their own: the live drummer’s complex jazz flourishes, adjacent to Our Lady’s raps, was a heavenly match, and keys from Cam O’bi sounded like divine tubular bells. Meanwhile, the structure of her tracks makes you realise how staid the ‘rap verse, sung chorus, rap verse’ format really is, as her sunny vocal presence permeates every section – even if she’s not deliberately illuminated during a melodic moment.
Also, she’s completely immersed: half-way through the set she comments on her untied shoe, which was flapping about for several songs. “If I trip, don’t put that sh-t on YouTube,” she laughs.
Finishing out with Shadow Man and the repeated refrain “darkness keeps me well,” the good vibes shimmering over the place had me believing a good slice of this audience probably put aside their post-Meredith blues to come out and see the rapper a second time in almost as many days. Extraordinary stuff.
Header image via Aunty Meredith.