Big Taj is holding his own in the packed out bar area when I arrive at 8pm with his weird and wonderful beat boxing skills, the audience is captivated by the mechanical, mathematical sounds which magically manifest through his microphone, it’s a cool opener.
First on the stage upstairs are Black Bros, it is winter outside and they open the night with a wish to “warm up the people” which is sweet and welcoming.
They sample catchy tunes by Kylie and Ash and share their thoughts on the government, humanity and the struggles of everyday life.
“I Kiss You Like a Frisbee” is a memorable line and they encourage the crowd to “Keep your eyes open, just be aware” and admit to feelings that “everyone in the game is my rival”.
Next up is Michelle aka Miss Eli, she has a distinctive R&B look with high ankle boots, cropped top, and bleached blonde hair.
She sings and plays the keyboard and is accompanied by solid beats from drummer Dade Thomas, her lyrics are personal, mostly about love and romance.
They perform a well chosen cover Wretch 32’s of ‘Don’t Go’ before being joined by Anjali Bhardwaj who plays fast keys on a jazzy track to finish the set, getting a good response from the crowd.
I like a good drummer and I’m into lyrics and Audrey and Louie of Hector Bizerk impress equally on both counts; Louie has great stage presence and Audrey’s beats are incredible.
Their look is as genuine as their music, both sensibly equipped for the climate with their woolies on. positive, observant and socially smart rhymes are backed up by on the money rhythms that change pace, volume and texture, creating grooves that have the crowd participating with enthusiasm.
They have a sense of humour too which is worked into the set without detracting from the serious nature of Louie’s subject matter.
‘Fat Cat’ tells a story of an emotionally challenged businessman and towards the end of the song Audrey puts down a beat on the bass drum that would revive the dead.
Lastly comes the prophetic sunny vibe of Kobi Onyame, the busiest team of the night with bass guitarist, jazz lounge style keyboards, drums and additional vocalist all live onstage and a backing track with even more vocals.
Kobi heralds in the coming year of the Chinese water dragon as he bounces up and down like Tigger on stage.
He is determined to get the audience to throw their hands in the air and say “ooohh oh” and invites us all to “climb on the beat” and sing along.
The New Year’s officially started as I head home and I’m taking Kobi Onyame’s belief with me that we can achieve our dreams, and Hector Bizerk’s words: “You can always be better than you were yesterday”.
Words: Janice Curless