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Live Review: Channel Tres' Sydney show was a reminder of house & hip-hop's diverse beginnings

23 July 2019 | 1:11 pm | Caitlin Medcalf

Taking to the Lansdowne Hotel in Sydney, Channel Tres delivered a show that reminded us of the need to acknowledge dance & hip-hop's diverse beginnings.

It's crazy to think that Los Angeles' CHANNEL TRES was only out here for the first time in November last year and even more crazy to think that when he was first out here, he only had a few singles to his name. 2018 saw the house-hop purveyor take the world by storm, releasing his self-titled debut EP that saw his infectious groove solidify itself as a frontrunner for innovation.

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He's readying the release of his second EP, Black Moses, which will feature his already-released single 'Sexy Black Timberlake', but to tide us over, he popped back over to Australia for round two, which included a stint at Splendour In The Grass and a bunch of headline shows around town too.

This time, he was headed to Sydney's Lansdowne Hotel, armed with his army of dancers and an apt support act in Clypso.

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She kicked off the night with her quirky blend of tropi-pop, giving us infectious melodies provided by her quick ear and artillery of synths and sounds. Her energy was unmatched, the crowd throwing back as much as she was giving, lending for a set that felt more Clypso than ever.

Consider the context of her work now - in the last year she released her debut EP, signed with local label etcetc and has played shows all around the country both on her own and with artists like Peking DukSAFIATouch Sensitive and more. It's been a really transformative year for the Sydney artist, so to see her confidently capture the infectious energy so well embedded into her recordings within her live show, was an absolute treat.

As her set ended and the stage was cleared for Channel Tres, the crowd buzzed and hummed with anticipation. If there's one thing to expect of a Channel Tres show, it's to expect the unexpected. After all, last time he played in Sydney, he played his house hit 'Controller' three times to a crowd who lapped it up with gusto each time.

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Channel Tres hit the stage for an opening like no other, the crowd falling silent as he stepped out. To give you an idea of how minimal the setup was, the show consists of him, two dancers, a mic and a mic stand (occasionally), but that didn't detract from the show. The focus was on energy and manifesting that throughout in various ways, whether that be through dance, singing or even his way of communicating with the crowd.

The crowd got down to 'Topdown', his baritone vocal spreading confidently through the air. His dancers never missed a beat, offering up a physical, performative showing of his songs.

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The set featured a humble mix of new and old, his more well-known singles like 'Controller' and 'Jet Black' coaxing the crowd into frenzied sing alongs, while the EP's title track 'Black Moses' offered up a brief moment of reflection. Channel Tres has opted for creating music that not only sounds good, but it challenges something. Looking at his work contextually, he's a black man creating a hybrid of Chicago house and hip-hop, two styles of music that were created by people of colour. His newer sounds like 'Black Moses' and 'Sexy Black Timberlake' seek to challenge stereotypes associated with black men, and his production choices put him historically in a place of power, reminding us of those before him who ultimately paved the way for artists like him. The performance was more than just a showcasing of his work, but an invitation to recall the black history of dance music and a reminder of its significance.

Channel Tres' show was a reminder of the need for recognition. Aside from his obvious talent in both creating music and performing, he holds a truly unique place in modern music that will only see him catapult further into the collective consciousness.

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Photos by Wylie J Miller