|Keith Ape performing at the Howler, Melbourne.|
The two support acts, Melbourne locals, DJ Slick P and Nico Ghost, work hard hype up the crowd, playing all the right tunes to raise the room’s anticipation and energy levels.
When Keith Ape comes on, the diverse crowd of Asian, black and white kids absolutely lose it. Matching their energy, Ape bounds on stage, though noticeably lacking the huge rapper ego. Breaking the distinction between artist and audience, Ape consciously makes the effort to high-five all the hands outstretched towards him.
Accompanied by DJ Matthew Law, Ape also shares his stage with fellow Cohort crew member, Bryan Chase, for the whole night; even graciously allowing Chase to perform a song of his own.
Over the top of the customary trap style of rolling 808 high hats and low, ominous beats, Chases’ higher rap style contrasts to Ape’s gritty and rich tone. And Ape’s underwater fixation is constantly referenced with killer whale calls scattered throughout the set.
With most of his catalogue boasting features, majority of the setlist of tracks from his mixtape and recent collabs, is cut down. One exception is a brand-new “week old” collaboration with Japanese rapper Anarchy, played in full.
But tonight’s highlight, of course, is the finale of ‘잊지마 (It G Ma)’. Hysteria ensues and phones start recording as the whole audience screams along in Korean and to the famous hook: "It g ma! Underwater squad!"
With the frenzy of limbs and constant jumping, there is an intense synergy between the artist and audience. The two feed of the energy of the other, uniting as a mass of youth elation.
In this sea of movement, it’s clear, tonight is not about perfect renditions. It’s about a united experience. Not only does Keith Ape live up to his hype, he’ll get you hyped and damn sweaty too.