Peking Duk at Festival Hall, Melbourne, Saturday May 12, 2018.
All photographs by Tim Lambert
In their newly adopted hometown, party twins Peking Duk and friends took to a sold-out Festival Hall where they melted faces and set the house on fire, figuratively… and for a moment, quite literally.
The crowd warmed up with a mixed bag of supports, beginning with the unrelenting party starter Mimi. Kwame flexed over the building crowd next; I couldn’t help but get huge Vince Staples vibes as the Sydney rapper’s effortless swagger spilled over the stage. WOW banged even harder than it does over the radio – this kind of flow can’t be faked.
Electric Lady Jack River was up next, sauntering through some of her early favourites (Palo Alto and Talk Like That), and a pair of unreleased tracks off of her upcoming debut album Sugar Mountain (out June 22 via IOHYOU; keep an eye out for our interview with the Sydney-based artist). The biggest reception was saved for the magical Ballroom, which proved River’s flawless voice was flawless and magnetic presence – a seriously special talent.
The 90-minute headlining set launched with a short film accompaniment to the excellent Reprisal clip released last week, as chants of “Duk! Duk!” rang through the crammed Festival Hall. Punters were stacked three-high on each other’s shoulders before the show had even started. As you may have already predicted, craziness ensued.
Adam Hyde and Reuben Styles (accompanied by their live drummer Joel Farland) leapt straight into tour namesake Wasted. As fireballs shot from the stage, the pair could have been mistaken for Violent Soho, such was the enthusiasm of their guitar-shredding. Live vocalist Michaela Baranov made her stage debut to perform Let You Down – the former The X Factor contestant’s voice soared – before SAFIA frontman Benjamin Woolner bounced out to drop Say My Name. New tracks Fire and Arizona Rising got their first live plays since their release the day before. No doubt they’ll be staples of the set for a long time to come.
The boys made their way to the stage’s peak behind the decks for a mid-set DJ slot that included Drake, JUSTICE, and of course The Killers’ Mr. Brightside. Kwame returned to drop a cover of Kendrick Lamar’s Backseat Freestyle, and if that wasn’t enough, it was followed by The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army. Behind my I heard: “If you close your eyes, it feels like we are back at Coachella,” and they weren’t wrong. Rounding out their seriously stacked set – let’s not forget that they only have a dozen songs and are yet to release an album – was their biggest hit, Hottest 100 runner-up High. Still get euphoric goose bumps when I hear it live.
I’ve been lucky enough to catch the boys a few times now. The first was at a very sweaty Corner show, the second was at Coachella, and the third was a corporate gig for Nando’s, of all things. But this one was something special. “This is really the stuff that dreams are made of” said Styles, before the set closed out with an acoustic-turned-banger version of Take Me Over (feat. Woolner) and mega-hit Stranger (feat. Baranov).
Confetti was replaced with rain and our sweat turned to icicles as we left the venue – but did we care? Not at all. Saturdays are for the Duk.