A musical block party gives voice to First Nations artists. Emerging writer Zali Morgan loves the sound and the spirit of this landmark occasion.
Flewnt’s Boorloo Block Party
The Rechabite Hall, 19 February 2023
Perth Festival talks about “putting First Nations voices first” – and Flewnt’s Boorloo Block Party meets the brief.
Proud Wongi Noongar rapper and MC Joshua ‘Flewnt’ Eggington brings together a huge line-up of First Nations Australian and Blak rappers, MCs and DJs for a night of fun, power and community.
In keeping with the Festival theme Djinda (the stars), the Block Party features rising stars such as Inkabee and 2LUBLY alongside well-known artists. Each artist brings their own crowd to The Rechabite, with the hall getting busier after each act, in readiness for headliner BARKAA.
The Rechabite is known as a safe space for performers and fans throughout Boorloo, especially for queer and BIPOC folk, and it definitely packs a crowd. With three levels of viewing space you are always guaranteed to get a view of the performance.
The energy when Flewnt is on stage is fun and infectious. He turns the dance floor into a party and shares the space with Boorloo artists, including Optamus (aka Scott Griffiths), Wardandi Bibbulmun singer-songwriter Boox Kid and Papua New Guinean Tani Walker.
With this crew, Flewnt shows the power in uniting on Country through his song Summertime Flow, which features Walker. The intensity of his set doesn’t let up and it’s clear this block party is about community for him.
Powerhouse singer Walker brings that Blak joy and a deep soul sound to Flewnt’s tracks, her calm energy balances Flewnt’s rhythmic rapping. When they come together on Black Boy, it’s a special kind of alchemy – Walker’s rich voice a counterpoint to Flewnt’s clever lyrics. It is so appreciated and it works.
Debuting at his father’s Block Party, 10-year-old Inkabee knows how to hold a crowd. Flewnt proudly supports his son, proclaiming he’s the “youngest Noongar to hold a crowd down in a nightclub” and he’s probably not wrong. Inkabee’s age certainly doesn’t hold him back as the Wongi Noongar rapper performs with such confidence and clarity in his voice, even up against inspirational senior MCs. The energy Inkabee brings to the stage is undeniably impressive, making not just his father, but the entire audience, proud.
As the crowd patiently waits for BARKAA to start her set, the atmosphere in the room builds. The Malyangapa and Barkindji woman always brings her all to a performance. After Flewnt’s huge set of local artists and party-like atmosphere, BARKAA delivers a new kind of energy.
Christened “the new matriarch of Australian rap” by GQ magazine, BARKAA brings the kind of invigorating fire you see at Invasion Day rallies. Throughout Bow Down, emotions are running high, for BARKAA and the audience.
Her strength and power is projected outwards throughout her lyrics and the crowd feeds off the intensity. It’s angry, powerful and the audience loves her performance.
BARKAA and her DJ FLYWAVES bring out Gomeroi Wodi Wodi emerging rapper and performer Kobie Dee for an exclusive collab. The energy increases but just as the audience is demanding more, BARKAA abruptly makes her exit.
Not sure how to take her sudden departure, the crowd starts to leave and the energy is dying down before all the performers come back on stage one last time, with a fitting 90s hip-hop mashup and a debut of Walker’s new song, The Remedy.
Seeing the community backing each other on stage is a reiteration of Flewnt’s set. Warm, proud and energised, the performers close the show as one.
Giving space for an all-Blak line-up to perform and tell their truth should be the standard. Flewnt’s Boorloo Block Party is proof audiences are crying out for it.
Pictured top: Hip-hop artist Flewnt’s stage energy is fun and infectious. Photo: Cam Campbell
Zali Morgan is participating in Perth Festival’s Aboriginal Reviewers Program for emerging Aboriginal writers and critics, mentored by Timmah Ball.
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