The beats were loud, the drinks flowed and the atmosphere was electric at everyone’s favourite University of Canberra bar Zierholz, last Friday night. Illy, arguably Australia’s greatest hip hop talent supported by two time ARIA winner and absolute master producer M-phazes, along with Chasm and Skryptcha produced an amazing show for the completely sold out crowd.

As I arrived at the university venue, Zierholz was a beacon of energy and warmth. A big sign out the front reading ‘Sold Out’ killed all hopes for late punters and created exclusivity for those with tickets. Immediately the place was alive, an intense buzz came from the packed out crowd and the smiles of anticipation were incessantly contagious.

Chasm and Skryptcha put their own twist and flavour to both international and local hip hop anthems, which amped the crowd to new rap battling and singing heights.

The stage became filled with a smiling presence of absolute energy when Illy and M-phazes greeted the eager crowd. Illy stormed the stage and promised an incredible show filled with “old shit, new shit and Friday flip shit”. Friday flip shit is a real crowd pleaser and is where he and M-phazes, ‘flip’ and put their own sound on chart topping songs, new and old.

To say Illy fulfilled his promise to the pumped crowd, would be a complete understatement. His presence of pure honesty and appreciation to all that follow and support him is unprecedented to anything I have seen. Illy created a sense of rapport and had the crowd hanging off every word. He gave as much of himself as he received from every audience member packed into Zierholz.

Illy and M-phazes took the audience on an absolute rollercoaster of free-flowing fast beats through songs like ‘Heard It All’ and ‘The Chase’, before slowing it down through the lyrical honesty and melody of crowd favourites, ‘Cigarette’s’ and ‘It Can Wait’. My emotions were wired, I didn’t know whether to bounce around or tell the people around me how I felt about them, I wasn’t alone.

The set finished and the crowd begged for one more song. Illy and M-phazes willingly obliged, with two! The night was upsettingly over, however the vibe lived on well after the act finished.

This national tour is in anticipation of Illy’s third album coming out later in the year, ‘Bring It Back’ which is a slight change from his last chart topping album ‘The Chase’, to a more fundamental hip-hop sound.

Photography by Chris Whitfield