Red Bull Beat Suite is the newest chain in musical evolution. On Saturday, Aloe Blacc, Ladi6, 5 beatmakers and the Australian Youth Orchestra realised a musical concept by bringing together two different worlds.
It isn't often you go to a gig where you don't really have any idea of what to expect. But that was the selling point for the latest musical experiment – Red Bull Beat Suite.
On paper it was always going to be interesting how an orchestra worked with a handful of DJs and beatmakers. But composer Tamil Rogeon
, best known for his work with True Live, was the right man for the job.
As soon as you saw Rogeon dancing on stage, while also conducting the Australian Youth Orchestra, and asking the crowd to "make some noise" it was clear he knew what he was doing.
With the help of Kano Hollamby
, Red Bull Beat Suite Creative Director, Music Co-Director and former Red Bull Music Academy Alumni, that was effortlessly mixing genres.
From the get-go it was exciting. On the Beat Suite Overture the DJs - including Kiwi Scratch 22 and local hero DJ Perplex, would drop some symphonic beats via their turntables. Then the 15-piece string section joined in with the real thing. That went on for the whole show - it was like they were finishing each other's thoughts. Strings on record, then live strings. It sounded incredible. And forget notions of a stuffy orchestra - the David Bowie-esque stripe of make-up over their eyes showed they were ready to try something new.
And it worked. Kiwi Ladi6 was a revelation - just as powerful demonstrating her sweet voice on Jazmine as she was showcasing her fierce rap on 98 to Now.
Ryan Ritchie, no stranger to working with Rogeon, slotted in easily. He dedicated a song to late Beastie Boy MCA while the DJs proved that scratching can be soulful as they provided able backing.
US soul singer Aloe Blacc flew in especially for the show, clearly bringing some of his fanbase along. They got to hear several of his tracks given a complete overhaul.
Miss Fortune, from his hit album Good Things, was reinvented with the string-driven drama of a Bond theme plus an injection of dubstep for good measure. Impressive. Dance For Life, from his debut album, boasted some seriously sweet harmonies from Blacc.
And his signature hit, I Need a Dollar, had that familiar piano line replaced by a very cool Caribbean feel that Blacc - and the audience - seemed to particularly enjoy.
Scratch 22 demonstrated the simple power of just vinyl crackle and used his turntable and stylus miked up to start making beats.
And DJ Perplex's sci-fi esque breakdown was a corker.
By the time Blacc's Whole World ended proceedings the audience had settled into the groove and were clapping along wildly.
All in all, the Red Bull Beat Suite was a wonderful surprise - and a creative meeting of some surprisingly similar minds.