The Loft | Friday 14 February

I’m always hit with a wall of nostalgia when I walk into The Loft. That and the mind boggling heat that swelters inside that place. There have been some great times up there and February 14 saw another killer line-up bless that stage.

Anika Mantell kicked off the night with a brand new track and her sultry blues vocals had me captivated from the start. As her set progressed, the crowd began to gather and by the time Mantell plays Skin On Skin, a song about lust and sexual desire, she has sunken into a smooth groove. She is comfortable on stage and her banter with the crowd between songs (and during) has us all giggling with her and when her set comes to a close I’m completely moved by her romantic voice.

With the perfect cocktail of hip-hop and jazz, next to hit the stage were Brisbane boys Astro Travellers. The set began with a warm jam that broke into a solid groove when MCs Ali The All Seeing and Da Cruz stormed the stage. As Astro Travellers move through their set, improvising and grooving, there is an air of inspiration over the crowd. I look to the other members, Kollecta X on drums, Pringle Face Villain on saxophone, The Professa on keys and Captain Anarchee on percussion and every one of them has a smile on his face. The electricity and vibe of this outstanding act is admirable and to be honest, whether the room was filled with people or empty, I think they would have had a good time.

Hailing from the Gold Coast, Street 66 are a hip-hop inspired group that bring a fresh and tasty flavour to the stage. I walked back inside to Street 66 bursting into their opener, That’s The Spot, an up beat track that saw a crowded Loft grooving. With Puer MC at the front of this band, his high energy and enthusiasm for their art is all encompassing. Inviting violinist Harriet Straker to the stage Street 66 move into a new track that begins with a super smooth bass line from Liam Butler and Harriet picking at the strings of her violin. They all seem so at ease on stage, drummer Jackson Martens and guitarist Julian Holland included. With Harriet still on stage Positive Heads is next to blow us all away and as they move through their extensive set of original tracks, by the time Gunja Grunge hits, familiarity sets in.

When I hear the intro to the brand new track from Street 66, Beyond The Flow, I get a shiver. Beginning with a stunning guitar riff from Julian, when Liam’s bass and the gentle drums from Jackson come in with Puer MC’s smooth as silk vocals, I lose myself to it. Next, there were some surprise appearances including MCs Big Jak and Temper MC with Adam spinning vinyl. These guys rocked it! Bouncing between each other with slick rhymes that flowed effortlessly and Adam bringing a whole other layer to this already well-developed band. The set closes with Ghost Town and after Street 66 thanks the crowd it’s grins and handshakes all round. Street 66 are a band that continues to grow and learn from each other and, more than that, love doing what they do.

Image courtesy Pause Photography.

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