Beck's Festival Bar feat. Apsci @ Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney (21/01/06)

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The night began with disappointing news, Jean Grae had cancelled her trip down under… the bold and emotive storyteller would not be taking centre stage tonight. But, the show must go on and the night still holds promise with the Brooklyn/Australian duo, APSCI, now being joined by the always lively Dexta and Kuya.

900pm: Danielsan is an island – he is smack bang in the middle of an empty courtyard serving up some old school hip hop/breaks. It is a difficult task to motivate a disjointed bunch of seated patrons sitting under a starry sky but the hip hop producer is not short of enthusiasm and there are signs of appreciation… plus, one guy asleep in the VIP section.

945pm: Danielsan is accompanied by the distinct sound of Sydney in Festival mode, fireworks.

1000pm: Josie Styles returns to the decks with sunshine of your love, relaxing and loosening the beats a little. I wonder why Danielsan isn’t doing the direct lead up to APSCI?

1015pm: A question, what do you call a lesbian dinosaur? I’ll spare you the answer – like any good multimedia space, sponsors employ idle hands – send message to number displayed on screen, message then displayed on screen. NB: stay away from Lawson, he may be a great guy but has the clap.

1030pm: APSCI take position on the main stage and an audience are quick to congregate before them. It is a small crowd for a name that comes with such an impressive wrap – record deal with Quannum keeping them in the salubrious company of Blackalicious, DJ Shadow and Lyrics Born; recording and gigs with the highly respectable fellas at Elefant Traks; in addition, Dana, the Australian classically trained singer/lyricist, will be David Byrne and Fatboy Slim’s leading lady in their upcoming musical, ‘Here Lies Love’.

As it is, the majority of the spectators could be here to see anything, with the exception of a few vocal fans down the front. The husband and wife duo introduce their set with some fairly traditional hip-hop. The beats are varied and the audience have no difficulty finding inspiration to move, however, Raphael and Dana’s MCing is disappointingly unimaginative in both the delivery and lyrically – “Just clap your hands everybody C’mon. Just stomp your feet everybody C’mon”, and “Say hell yeah. Say fuck yeah… Sydney make some noise”.

I am patient and it is when Dana starts exercising her operatic range that I know they are building up to the more I’ve been waiting for. Her voice is ethereal and captivating and an interesting tension is created when the vocals are infused with Raphael’s programmed beats. But, unfortunately, there just isn’t enough of it. The duo appear caught in some hip hop role play.

APSCI attempt political commentary with Fuck Bush but it feels like tokenism for the self-confessed non-politically motivated pair. However, Raphael and Dana do prove they can reach some depth and passion together with the strong delivery of Never Give Up. It shall be interesting to chart the progression of APSCI as they further establish themselves but at the moment they don’t seem to be focused enough on their point of difference.

1100pm: The gates are opened for free admission and the dance floor is injected with more lively bodies.

1115pm: Lightning baton change to Dexta and Kuya with a booty shakin’ remix of Gold Digger and I’ve Gotta Woman (I think), a crowd pleaser that ensures there will be dancing into the night.

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