BODY COUNT // The OG Venue Destroyers Return

BODY COUNT with A.B. Original + Void Of Vision – The Tivoli, Brisbane – Thursday June 1st, 2017

Trailing up to the line of The Tivoli this evening, the ground is littered with hastily chugged booze and the distinct, dank waft of sweet Mary Jane. With South Central, L.A. outfit Body Count rolling into town, we wouldn’t expect anything less. So we quickly barrel through the doors to grab a prime spot for tonight’s ensemble.

As the house lights dims, Melbourne upstarts Void Of Vision are tasked with warming up the crowd. Given that The Tivoli is roughly only a third full at this point, it’s not exactly the easiest task. However, when the booming drum intro to Beastie Boys classic No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn kicks in, people look up and take notice. Pulling largely from their recent debut full-length, Children of Chrome, Void Of Vision deal exclusively in down-tempo, djent-heavy metalcore rhythms, and the five-piece has a solid crack at working over a less-than enthusiastic group of early punters.

With the band clad in matching jerseys branded with their own moniker, vocalist Jack Bergin decides to rock a yellow jacket and black fingerless gloves over the top, giving the him the uncanny appearance of a banana-flavoured bin man. Bergin’s harsh, raspy screams cut through a flat mix on //, while his bandmates pick up the slack with clean choruses on tracks like Ctrl Freak and In Black & White. The bottom-end breakdowns of older cut Nightmare get heads banging upfront, and when Bergin asks people to bounce, they happily oblige. When the group is finally gifted with an improved and coherent mix, the melodic sensibilities of Sunrise provide a welcome change-up from the overt bravado of earlier tracks. Despite their initial setbacks, it’s very clear that Void Of Vision are just stoked to be here tonight, and with a smiling face and gracious tone, Bergin thanks the crowd for coming out as the Victorians wrap up their short set.

Void of Vision // Photo: Matt Warrell

By the time Indigenous hip-hop all-stars A.B. Original are ready to take the stage, the crowd has noticeably swelled, filling out the pit down below and the mezzanine floor up top. To get the party started, hype-man Keith Bailey (better known as DJ Total Eclipse, from New York turntablists The X-Ecutioners) mounts the decks and rips into a remix of Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name Of. As you would expect, The Tivoli crowd goes suitably ape-shit for one of the best grooves of all time, so much so that when Briggs and Trials finally walk on, it’s to a deafening chant and rowdy applause.

With their political and (some might say) controversial take on Aussie hip-hop, it’s immediately obvious that A.B. Original aren’t afraid to talk about some real shit. Cuts like 2 Black 2 Strong and Dead In A Minute from their album Reclaim Australia, mix furious rhymes and important issues with fat beats and solid hooks. Between songs, Briggs towels himself off while thanking Brissy for showing some love, pleading with the crowd to not “smoke meth,” and taking the time to shout out to “all my Murri motherfuckers in the house.” We’re not exactly sure how many that would be this evening (as the crowd does look homogeneously off-white, even for Queensland), but the honest sentiment is cheered regardless. New single Report To The Mist gets the crowd fist-pumping in unison, as Trials speaks sincerely about the plight of Indigenous youth, before apologising for the lack of a ‘party vibe’ when it comes to the group’s more sombre tracks.

A.B. Original // Photo: Matt Warrell

As their set ends, the duo rip into Bad Apples from Briggs’ solo material, and then close with topical Triple J hit and unofficial Aussie anthem January 26, which rouses their biggest response of the night. Is the irony of a protest song about the treatment of Indigenous people in Australia’s dark history, entirely lost on a crowd that appears to be largely middle-aged, white Caucasian people intimately acquainted with Aussie flags and Southern Cross tattoos? Perhaps. Some might argue that A.B. Original’s hot take on issues such as racism, police brutality and Indigenous incarceration do not ‘belong’ in rap or hip-hop, and only serve to fuel division and tear open old wounds. Yet after tonight’s energetic and impassioned performance, we figure that this pair of Yorta Yorta and Ngarrindjeri nation gentlemen would counter such notions with a simple and resounding retort: “Fuck that, homie.

With tonight’s supports wrapped up, the crowd is getting noticeably anxious. The lines for the pisser look like primal battlegrounds, and dudes are practically stumbling over each other, double-fisting stacked tinnies left and right with rigor mortis grips. Watching the backstage crew set up and soundcheck gear cordoned off with ‘POLICE LINE – DO NOT CROSS’ tape, we overhear a bloke behind us talking about his mate’s band, who aren’t “over the top racist skinheads,” but more the type to sing about “crucifying paedophiles and shit.” Curious. We regrettably miss the band name, and are left to ponder the possibilities as the house lights dim and main event begins.

It’s bonafide anthems like Body Count and the indomitable Cop Killer which destroy the crowd tonight, with the pit all but consumed by non-stop stomp action and punters up top nearly folding themselves in half over the railing.

An Emergency Broadcast backing track from the track Civil War starts off against red-and-blue flashing lights, before heavy metallers Body Count step out to wailing police sirens, foreshadowing the violence and panic to come. Now, for a lesser band, to start a show with a cover song (regardless of collective proficiency) would be considered a cardinal sin. But Body Count ain’t no lesser band, suckers. So, when the L.A. sextet rip into their Slayer medley Raining Blood/Postmortem 2017 from their recent album Bloodlust, it’s audacious as fuck and the crowd rightfully go ballistic. Vocalist, bandleader and fictional S.V.U. narc Ice-T lends his signature West Coast inflection to lyrics like “Awaiting the hour of reprisal/Your time slips away,” before a blazing guitar solo screams from the speakers. Dusting the medley off, the band treats the old-heads in the room to blistering renditions of Bowels of the Devil and Necessary Evil, which both receive a rapturous response.

Body Count // Photo: Matt Warrell

Addressing the crowd, Ice-T introduces his brothers in arms – Juan of the Dead on rhythm guitar, Ill Will on drums, Vincent Price on bass, Little Ice as hype man/backing vocalist, and the legendary Ernie C on lead guitar – before cheekily mentioning that it’s “hard to get his band through customs.” The band apparently had gear confiscated upon entering the country, but Ice-T seems nonplussed about it, saying “Fuck it, we’re here. And we might never leave.” Launching into the title track from 2014’s Manslaughter, the Tivoli degenerates into a heaving mess of thrown horns and crowd surfers, and when the gang-banging There Goes the Neighbourhood kicks in, people start to really get down.

Body Count // Photo: Matt Warrell

With a huge set of back-to-back bangers, Body Count keep things tight while pulling from across their 25-year back catalogue. Early 90s cuts like the bluesy Voodoo, the freaky KKK Bitch, and the hard-hitting Drive By all get a mention, with the latter track being especially relevant given the death of former bassist Lloyd ‘Mooseman’ Roberts III from a random shooting in 2001. Younger punters are also treated to fresh and topical tracks like No Lives Matter, Black Hoodie and recent single The Ski Mask Way, which Ice-T performs with the aforementioned head gear fixed firmly on his dome, making the thick grooves that wash over the crowd feel like aggravated assault.

Body Count // Photo: Matt Warrell

When they’re not smashing through heavy cut after heavy cut, Body Count effortlessly engage tonight’s attendees on numerous other levels. At one point, a crew member wearing a Donald Trump mask walks out to flip off the crowd, only to be coat-hanged by Ice-T to much delight (S-A-D). Meanwhile, Ill Will brings the bombast with a breakneck drum solo and Ernie C gets some spotlight with a ripping extended solo during C Note. Right before Talk Shit, Get Shot, Ice-T imparts some wise words to a 19-year old kid up front, who has a “cool fucking dad” standing next to him in a Slayer tee, before making the crowd laugh by pointing out that he’s been “playing a cop on TV longer than you’ve been alive.”

Body Count // Photo: Matt Warrell

It’s bonafide anthems like Body Count and the indomitable Cop Killer which destroy the crowd tonight, with the pit all but consumed by non-stop stomp action and punters up top nearly folding themselves in half over the railing. As Ice-T explains his original concept for a ‘virtual encore’ (no spoilers), the band deliver a roaring cover of Disorder by Scottish punks The Exploited, before closing out with the seminal Born Dead and slow burn This Is Why We Ride. Maxing out at over an hour of heavy metal-punk fusion, Ice-T and his Body Count brethren truly brought the motherfuckin’ ruckus this evening.

And if you missed it, you done fucked up.

Body Count’s Bloodlust Australia Tour continues tonight June 2 in Melbourne, followed by Sydney June 3.

Grab Tickets here >

Body Count Bloodlust Australian Tour

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