When Solo and Adit of Sydney hip hop outfit Horrorshow were in year 12 at Fort Street High School they wrote and released their debut album The Grey Space. Now, ten years on, the duo have just taken to the Sydney Enmore Theatre stage for a headline hometown show in support of their fourth studio album, Bardo State. Current Fort Street High School student Giacomo Degotardi went along to the show and here reflects on how the Horrorshow story has inspired him for what’s to come.
Sydney’s Enmore Theatre is a fittingly regal venue for Inner West royalty. The venue is an iconic part of the city’s local music scene, and with its high ceilings, ornate walls and dingy carpet, it feels both exclusive and open to all. In other words, perfect for kings of Sydney hip hop Horrorshow to perform to a home crowd.
I’ve been lucky enough to see Horrorshow perform five times now, and I can say with confidence that this show, the Sydney stop on their Bardo State tour, was, for me, their best to date. It incorporated everything I loved from their previous gigs – the love Solo gives the crowd, the way Adit can’t stop smiling the entire set – but with the addition of Freddy Crabs from Sticky Fingers on piano and Dane Connor on drums, the quality of their sound and stage presence is the strongest it has ever been.
Bardo State is Horrorshow’s fourth album, so they have a huge catalogue to choose from. The set list was excellent but there will always be songs you wish you got to hear. To their credit, they moved seamlessly between old and new tracks, starting with ‘Dead Star Shine’, switching all the way back to their debut The Grey Space as well as bringing some special guests on to perform tracks off Bardo State. Omar Musa, Hayley from the Jezabels, Turquoise Prince and Taj Ralph all joined Solo, Adit and the band up on stage. ‘Push’ was particularly strong, with 16-year-old Taj getting a thunderous response for his skilful and soulful vocals.
Tracks like ‘Walk You Home’ and ‘Cherry Blossom’ brought the love out of the crowd with many couples stopping to steal a kiss from loved ones or wipe away a tear or two before returning to sing the lyrics back at Solo. This positive (and amorous) atmosphere continued all night, so much so that when they left the stage it took less than a second for an encore chant to begin.
Photo: Cole Bennetts
As a Fort Street High School kid, this gig carried a special significance for me. With both Solo and Adit being alumni of the Fort, I have always felt an added layer of connection with the group. From the moment I first heard them when they opened for the Hilltop Hoods at the Hordern Pavilion in 2012, I loved their music.
I remember listening to ‘Waiting For The 5.04’ for the first time, a song that tells the story of a particular commute from a Sydney train station. A commute I know well. It was so cool to know I had been literally following in his footsteps. Knowing they were locals was cool enough but when thirteen-year-old-me discovered they had graduated from my high school and yet had somehow turned as two of the coolest people in Australian music, my mind was blown.
The search for evidence was on. Whether it was trying to figure out where they were in old yearbook photos, getting excited at Solo’s lyrics mentioning how they had been “holding down the Fort since high school”, harassing teachers to find out what kind of students they had been or discovering their names written on the front covers of textbooks. They were, and are, role models outside of what the school was telling me I should be. They’re living, breathing evidence that there isn’t only one way to succeed at life.
Horrorshow also led me to discover their musical collective One Day, five out of seven members of which also attended Fort Street. This group of friends went from freestyling at parties in high school and tagging train lines to forming part of the heritage of Australian hip hop.
They rapped about everything I was going through. “From the bus rides and break-ups”, they had it all covered. So, when me and my Fort Street mates ended up running into a group of friends from another school (coincidentally the same school attended by Spit Syndicate’s Jimmy Nice), it felt good to “band together with many hands” to witness Horrorshow’s first headlining gig at The Enmore and pretend that we are going to be the next generation of Inner West rappers.
My friends and I had spotted Jimmy Nice on King Street prior to the gig, longneck in hand, as well as rapper Kai Tan from Jackie Onassis out the front of the venue. Four out of seven members were accounted for, but we were eager to spot the rest. Horrorshow had promised something special for their hometown show so when One Day burst out on stage to perform their rendition of Scribe’s ‘Not Many’ the crowd’s response ratcheted up to fever pitch.
Horrorshow closed off the night with crowd favourite ‘The Rain’. I joined the crowd in reciting every word; the closest I’ve been to a religious experience.
Everyone was reluctant to leave but as people shuffled out I was lucky enough to head backstage. I got to take a few photos and chat to an exhausted Solo and Adit and tried to condense the impact they’d had on me into a few sentences. Being in the same room as all these people I looked up to, from Elefant Traks head honcho Urthboy to singer Joyride – his head narrowly missing the roof of the Enmore Theatre’s green room – was totally surreal. Meeting all the people that ‘Make You Proud’ (one of my favourite track’s off Horrorshow’s previous album King Amongst Many) was written about was a truly humbling experience. Turquoise Prince also complimented my pants, which definitely made my highlight reel.
Horrorshow have had such an incredible impact on me as a Fortian, a fan and a lover of good music. With Bardo State and this latest tour they have cemented their place as not only one of my favourite artists, but, to me, as Aussie hip hop royalty.
Photo: Cole Bennetts
Horrorshow’s national tour continues this week. Catch dates and details here.