Saturday October 25, 2014 :
The inaugural Soulfest came to town over the weekend with a selection of music from Hip Hop and Soul music’s finest on stage. Imported over for the festival were Hip Hop heavy weights Mos Def, Common, D’Angelo, Angie Stone and Leela James just to name a few.
Leela James enters the stage with a large red and black afro and she has one powerful voice to open this year’s Soulfest. The sun in beating down and Leela is belting out her hits. She covers ‘Man’s World’ and does a number of her originals, finishing up with ‘Music’. Her booming voice and attitude make her a powerhouse to watch.
Saving the best for last Angie Stone closes with ‘I Wish I Didn’t Miss You’, telling the crowd she has two minutes and she’s gonna bring it home. She asks the crowd “Do you wanna come on Vacation with me? Do you think you can handle it? Coz we’re going to Jamaica“, before slowing it down and singing the finale Jamaican style. She delivers a set full of fire to get the crowd off their feel and dancing.
Local Brisbane act Mark Lowndes had some great island vibes to open for Mos Def. Five back up singers lined the stage for the band. Singer barefoot but clearly enjoying himself singing songs about chasing your dreams. ‘Free your mind’ is a fun island tune.
Mos Def arrives in style, hat in hand, he sprinkles red and white rose petals all over the stage to announce his arrival. The king of old school, he takes us back to 1988, classic Mos Def tracks with vision of Bruce Lee movies playing in the background.
As the sun goes down Aloe Black pumps things up with his joyful set. He opens with ‘I Need A Dollar’. The crowd is amped up and he is charismatic. ‘Smile’, and he invites the crowd to hug the people they love. There is plenty of soul clapping to this uplifting set. His on-stage antics are a pleasure to watch, the highlight being when he leads into ‘Wake Me Up’, a song that he recorded with Avicii earlier this year. Stripped back without the heady dance track, listeners get the raw version in all it’s brilliance.
Up and coming local girl Bec Laughton plays a side act and the girl with Brisbane’s best set of pipes is giving it her all. She is an energetic performer and one of the more memorable acts of the evening. She has one set of pipes and it won’t be long until this girl is taking the main stage to headline shows.
Common enters the stage in a cloud of smoke, he salutes both sides of the stage to announce he is here. He grabs a local girl and brings her on stage to serenade her for ‘I Want You’ and asks the crowd “Where tha good girls at?”. His music tells the story of betrayal and pain. ‘I Used To Love H.E.R’ moves at a fast pace and Common is on point with his rhymes. He freestyles for some of the set adding in lyrics that are relevant to Brisbane. He demonstrates his love for hip hop with a medley of old school ‘Hip Hop Hooray’/’Jump Around’/’Billy Jean’, mixed by DJ Active.
The sun is down and D’Angelo is here to warm things up. He slides across the stage gesturing to the crowd and making faces. Guitar in hand he belts out some powerful riffs, easily switching back to piano. He’s a big man but he sure can move and belt out a song. D’Angelo is the master of funk and attitude.
Maxwell closes the evening with some soul. He’s well dressed and smooth, making the ladies in the crowd wild. Dancing seductivley on stage Maxwell knows how to please his female supporters. If D’Angelo managed to warm things up, then Maxwell has the place on fire.
Overall the Soulfest event was enjoyable. It started off slow and there were teething problems for the event but it worked out by the end of the evening. Australia has such little exposure to the hip hop artists and scene so it is admirable that it has eventuated finally. Hopefully we’ll see more of this festival in years to come.
Reviewer and Photographer: Amanda Starkey