An electrifying mash-up of dance, rock, trap and pop flooded Melbourne’s Festival Hall on Saturday night when the larrikins that are Peking Duk landed for the Victorian leg of their sold-out “Wasted” national tour. If people didn’t already think of them as some of the best live performers our country has to offer, there is no chance it could be argued otherwise after this show.
Opening the stellar night was Sydney-based upcoming rapper Kwame, who bounced across the stage to his recent hits ‘WOW’ and ‘WHO DAT’, proving that Aussie hip-hop isn’t limited to the electro pop/rock-influence of most in the same genre. Shortly after, folk/pop singer Jack River showed off her range – in voice and style – giving the crowd a subtle warm-up for the night of intensity that followed.
Kicking off their set, Peking Duk blessed fans by immediately smashing through their tour’s title-track ‘Wasted’. The deep synths and contrasting clarity of Adam Hyde’s electric guitar shook the building, forcing every single person to stand and dance for the entire show.
Joined by drummer Joel Farland, as well as guest vocalists Ben Woolner (from SAFIA) and Michaela Baranov, the Canberra natives played live to every one of their hit singles – including ‘Say My Name’, ‘Fake Magic’ and ‘Let You Down’ – with Reuben Styles’ constant bass licks and fills adding layers of power to an already brooding electric performance. The element of rock was truly noticeable, with just as much head-banging and fist-pumping as there was jumping and dancing from the packed audience.
As expected, it’s hard to fill a 1.5 hour show when you’ve only released a dozen or less singles. So, in true Peking Duk fashion, the lads jumped behind the decks and showed off possibly the most insane DJ set I’ve ever witnessed. Huge electronic and trap remixes, hip-hop classics (including a version of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Backseat Freestyle’ with Kwame back on stage leading the crowd) and all-time favourites like The Killers’ ‘Mr. Brightside’, Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’, and a live version of The White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’. It really was an odd mix of tracks, but the enthusiasm they both displayed for each song was beyond anything I’ve seen before – so much passion and enjoyment; that’s possibly the thing I love the most about Peking Duk. Not only are they incredible musicians, but they simply love what they do, and make sure every audience member loves it too.
Before closing with another string of favourites like ‘High’, ‘Take Me Over’ and ‘Stranger’, the Duk premiered their new singles ‘Fire’ and ‘Distant Arizona’ for the first time since releasing them a day earlier. Honestly, I can’t say I’m 100% sold yet on the new tracks – I don’t think the boys have found a cemented sound to stick by as of yet, but I have to applaud their performance on the night.
Definitely the most fire, sparks and smoke I’ve seen at a gig without becoming exaggerated or over-used – it wouldn’t be a Peking Duk show without taking everything to the absolute peak.
Although many consider Peking Duk the clowns of the Australian electronic music scene, there is no denying both the production and performance talent that these boys hold, and bless us with, each and every explosive set.
Festival Hall, Melbourne – Saturday May 12
Supported by Kwame, Jack River
Reviewed by Zach Edwards
Image sourced from Peking Duk socials.