OneFour brought the heat, but not the drama to Festival Hall

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OneFour brought the heat, but not the drama to Festival Hall

Photo: Rick Clifford
Photo: Rick Clifford
Photo: Rick Clifford
Photo: Rick Clifford
Photo: Rick Clifford
Photo: Rick Clifford
Photo: Rick Clifford
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words by kaya martin

Whether it was due to it being OneFour's first Aussie festival headliner or the group's history for being kicked off lineups at the hands of the cops, there was much anticipation surrounding the RISING show.

What would go down? Would OneFour live up to their nefarious reputations? Obviously, we had to be there.

After an afternoon wandering the maze that was RISING’s Daytripper, witnessing many magical moments in the Town Hall and being called “brats” by Yassin Bey (OK Charli!), we caught a tram to Festival Hall. Cars filled with fanny-pack-strapped teens blasting hip-hop whirred past.

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Save for a brief swipe with a metal detector and a request by the seccies to turn out our pockets, it really felt much like any other gig. We arrived in time to see Miss Kannina kill it as usual – God, she’s good.

The only female to grace the stage, alone with her DJ rather than rolling in a big group like the rest for the night’s act, she has such a compelling, commanding energy. In moments between songs, she led the crowd in chants of “free Palestine” and “fuck the police”, taunting any undercovers hidden in the crowd in her homemade ‘we punch cops’ graphic T.

Miss Kannina does such a beautiful job of channelling her visceral anger into undeniable bangers, and proving yet again that it’s possible to make music with a deeper purpose that still goes crazy hard.


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RFA17 was next. Following in the steps of OneFour, these youngins have been blowing up on YouTube, their single Traumatised hitting over 300k views and doing the rounds on the reaction videos circuit. The panache was all there – I particularly enjoyed one member’s fuzzy white balaclava – however the verses weren’t, many playing from the backing track while the boys jumped in to annunciate certain bars.

They absolutely drenched the crowd as well, shaking out water bottles all over them, water droplets shimmering in the strobe. Their friends watched from the sidestage, clearly enjoying themselves.

And finally, OneFour. After all the fanfare, the pressure was on for the boys to deliver, but the crowd felt supportive. J Emz, Celly and Spenny crisscrossed the stage, spitting with a trained precision. 10 years in, the group has managed to maintain the rawness it became known for while developing a certain level of professionalism, showing in everything from their crowd engagement to their more poppy hits like COMMA’s and Welcome To Prison.

When a group is so controversial, splashed in the news more so for their societal impact than their actual art, it does make you wonder – is it all just hype? But seeing OneFour bring the heat onstage, hearing them switch with ease emotional ballads like Heartless to the ruthless energy of new single Natural Habitat, and watching the crowd eat it all up, it’s clear there’s a real reason they’ve popped off. OneFour are serious.

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