Polar Nation, Thursday August 11, Red Bennies
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Polar Nation, Thursday August 11, Red Bennies

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As a recent transplant to Melbourne, it was only a matter of time before I heeded the clarion call to cross the river to South Yarra. In this particular case, it was to witness the official CD launch of Sydney-based hip-hop trio Polar Nation’s self-titled debut. I’ll admit it outright – I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve never been particularly warm to that mongrel of the ’90s: rap-metal, or whatever the kids on the street are calling it these days.

There I was at Red Bennies on Chapel Street, amongst the posh denizens of South Yarra. The punters were divided equally between uni students, dapper older men, and those girls in tight-fitting black skirts with expertly-pedicured toes poking from their pumps.

Polar Nation took the stage, accompanied by a guitarist and a live drummer: both of whom would, to put it scientifically, rock. The three MCs – Aki Redbird, Samson, and Matthew Charles – held the front of the stage like a three-strong phalanx, wielding their mics with aplomb and energy as they launched into the first track, Hey Yo. Throughout their set, the lyrics flew like bullets from their lips as they rapped in sequence, backed by some killer guitar licks from Jeremy Taylor and their drummer Dan Kerby, who was beating his kit halfway to death in a frenzy of beats and snares. The audience needed to be coaxed a bit to let their hair down and dance, but by the end were jumping up and down like their lives depended on it.

There were a couple of moments that lagged a bit, where Polar Nation came across more like a run-of-the-mill rap-metal outfit than their own particular beast; but just a couple. The bulk of their nine-track set found Aki, Samson, and Matthew on fire, just up there on the tiny stage at Red Bennies, having the time of their life sharing their music with punters who, by the end of the show, could fairly be called fans. I, for one, was happy to have made that mad journey to the South.

LOVED: Their closing number, Sleep – I didn’t think it was possible to rap that fast and still make sense.

HATED: The journey to South Yarra. Why’s it so hard to get there from the North?

DRANK: Kicked it old school and sipped on chilled Sauvignon Blanc.