Urthboy curates an entertaining, if scattershot, offering on the final night of the Melbourne Festival.
Make Me A Mixtape is essentially a piece of storytelling about Urthboy’s youthful travels in South-East Asia, interspersed with covers from local artists of songs that share some sort of thematic connection to his experiences. This conceit gets off to a shaky start when Thelma Plum covers First Aid Kit’s Silver Lining, looking deathly terrified the entire time. Later performances are better, though – Jane Tyrrell, Urthboy’s frequent collaborator from The Herd, is spectacular and delivers a brilliant cover of Mary J Blige’s Family Affair, and Ella Hooper is outstanding, taking on Frank Ocean’s Lost with aplomb.
Those familiar with hip hop mixtapes won’t be able to help but rue the lost opportunity here. Hip hop artists frequently release mixtapes as a way of disseminating work that falls outside the conventions of an album. For example, rapping over another artist’s beat would fail the originality requirements for an album track, but it’s a mainstay of the hip hop mixtape world.
Audience members may well have hoped that Make Me A Mixtape would showcase some of Urthboy’s artistry in this regard, but in this show he’s more of a curator, assembling a series of musical experiences while staying back from centre stage. It’s good, but a show in which Urthboy puts his own vocal stamp on some well-known tracks and beats could well have been even better.
Still, it’s hard to feel overly disappointed once you’ve witnessed Henry Wagons, resplendent in a silver sequinned animal-print jacket belting out Return Of The Mack. All up, it’s a win.
Rating; 3 out of 5 starts
Make Me A Mixtape
Performed by Urthboy and guests