By Steph Eslake
Chance Waters is no ordinary hip-hop artist. Dressed like he was about to meet his girlfriend’s parents in a neat jumper and shirt, he skipped onto the Republic Bar stage sipping bottled water through a modest beard. He could have easily passed for a regular hipster, and when he parted his politely smiling lips, the last thing I expected to hear was a wealth of course language set over a mad hip hop pulse. And yet, it worked perfectly.
Chance was largely accompanied by acoustic instruments, including a banjo and a violin, which brought an unpredictable amount of Indie into his hip-hop. I was immediately impressed with the way that Chance, though not yet an incredibly mainstream artist, was daring enough to interpret hugely popular songs and perform them better than the originals. His cover of Mumford and Sons’ Little Lion Man eliminated the original hit’s nervous energy and stripped it of its folk foundations, breaking the song down to a sexy hip-hop beat that visibly pulsated through his bouncing crowd. This was mirrored by the band’s excessive energy on stage – and while you might think it a challenge to jump half a meter into the air while bowing a long tone on a violin, the ensemble managed to sustain a near-record quality sound for the gig’s duration. Similar genius made its way into Chance’s cover of Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know, which was almost unrecognizable except for the recurring (and brainwashing) baa-baa-black-sheep riff.
The unassuming and seemingly ordinary guy also rapped many originals, which were well received by his surprisingly sober audience. Although he wasted no opportunities in sucking up to the crowd of Hobartians (who are, of course, “the best audience”), Chance’s genuinely gentle nature did imply sincerity in his appreciation of his fans, which made me a little warm inside. It also reflected the content of his songs, in which clearly articulated rap was occasionally interrupted by smooth and relaxed melodies that provided colour and contrast to the underlying beat.
Chance’s gig was a seriously cool event, and if you enjoy seeing good live music, you should catch him wherever he pops up next. He brings an unprecedented amount of innovation and originality to his hip-hop creations. In fact, I would be willing to call them Indie-hop. Or hip-pop. Or hipster-hop. A new style definitely needs to be created for Chance.
This review was featured in Aphra Magazine May 2013.