Howler is a venue that I’ve always likened to a mullet haircut; business at the front and motherfucking party at the back.
On this particular night, it was the Melbourne holy grail of public holidays that is not a public holiday- the AFL Grand Final.
Footy fans and girls with high heels and peplum dresses drank in the front whilst down the very back, hail to the gods, The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra took to the stage and brought the good, good, good, bloody good afrobeat vibes.
The night began with The Let Your Hair Down Girls who are a new instrumental collective to the Melbourne funk and boogaloo scene that don’t pigeonhole themselves. They fit into all the gaps that would emerge if you mixed the musicianship of The Budos Band with the attitude of Wu-Tang Clan and the foot-shuffling of Sergio Mendes growing up in the Melbourne suburbs.
Featuring members of the soul/rock juggernaut that is Saskwatch, these guys proved that there is more behind that band than we know.
Each owning their music and shining in their own way, it is apparent that these young musicians are on the rise to something delicious in their musical trajectory. Artisans on each note, creators at each song.
Gracing us with a psychedelic flute solo in a groove called “Snag Wallet” to a classical piano introduction in the fast-paced “Abuja Death Cab”, all the while led by the trumpet player, his sharp wit and cheeky interludes, i.e. “This is a song about Olaf’s grandma, its called ‘Bumfuck Holiday’”. These guys are never one to keep you standing still.
The Let Your Hair Down Girls got the feet moving and set the night up for the fun that was only going to build.
Next up, House of Beige Crew (an unfitting name for a hip-hop collective who burst so much life and colour that they would burn a house down) bounded through their set that brought something new to the Australian hip-hop landscape.
Comprised of REMI (yes, we love him), Cazeaux Oslo and Sensible J, these guys combine old school hip-hop breaks with new electronica phrases and well-versed, party-laden lyrics.
REMI himself is a young talent that has been on our radar for a while, but to see him live and see him spit everything he has on each line is inspiring to say that least. Bounding through his hits “Sangria” and “XTC Party” and backed by great mix-masters and stage companionship, House of Beige Crew brought the night up to the next notch.
This is a collective that you definitely need to keep an eye on over the next few months because talent like this won’t be tamed for long. Get in and see them when you can, wherever you can and support your local.
Finally, the sixteen-piece wonder that is The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra managed to fit themselves onto the stage to cap off an amazing music that Melbourne needs to be proud to call it’s own.
Featuring six vocalists, a DJ and a nine–piece instrumental section, these guys literally invited the audience into their own rump-shaking and hand-raising journey into the encompassing and never dull afrobeat soundscape.
To not be ignited with energy during their set would have been sacrilege to say the least.
And just when you thought there couldn’t have been more, out came the mesmerising back-up singers (who stood at the front of stage) with their enchanting sway and lively voices that pulled the crowd in and got us all chanting and swaying along with them.
Looking around, not a single person in the room was sitting down; everyone was up and following the dance commands of their new, soulful heroes.
The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra is a band you need to see. A little left of your general radar, but a giant leap to the right of a flipping amazing time.
This is a musical collective that have got it perfected in every sense of the game; bringing the uprising sound of Afro-beat to the pockets of Melbourne and leaving everyone in the audience feeling special and feeling alive.
They do this by not just performing, but by getting up there and sharing their love for music and the world that we live in because of it. They involve you, they feed you and you feed them. The performance grows and you never want to leave.
To see The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra is to have an experience that will become etched in your mind for you lifetime to come.
It’s time to get educated, it’s time to go and watch The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra.
Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
Dance to them here:
And watch them do their thing here (at the AFL):