Written By | Nathan Washington
It’s a Wednesday night and Howler Melbourne is quickly filling up, setting the scene for a big night at the venue. U.K. hardcore hip hop artist Scarlxrd is in town for his final show of the year, and fans are determined to make it a big one.
To open for him, Melbourne north-side local Juñor takes the stage, bringing with him a whole entourage of guests. A pioneer on the Australian hip hop scene and founder of popular Aussie platform AUD’$, Juñor brings incredible energy to every show he performs and tonight is no exception. Starting out the set with fellow AUD’$ member Z Lewis on stage for fast-paced bars and killer hooks over explosive beats, Juñor continues to welcome guest after guest; Ivan Ooze, Melbourne’s CHUM 313 collective and even an appearance from Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa collaborator Brian Fresco, fresh off a flight from Chicago, jumping up to perform some unreleased material. At this point, Juñor is clearly having a great time, dancing around wildly and vibing with each artist brought up, and by the time he heads off the stage, the crowd is riled up and ready for the next act.
To hype up the fans for Scarlxrd’s upcoming performance, his resident spinner Jacky P sets off on a brutal DJ set, jumping on the decks to chaotically switch between the likes of hard-hitting XXXtentacion beats to heavy Bring Me The Horizon riffs and back again, sometimes faster than the audience can keep up with. Its effects are well received however, and before Scarlxrd even appears on stage, a devoted crowd of followers are headbanging and thrashing around as mosh pits are forming and the air is heavy with anticipation for the main act.
Scarlxrd himself needs no introduction as he walks out of the wings to commence his set, as the yells of the crowd are more than enough to announce his presence onstage for anyone in the venue. Taking a minute to greet fans, he launches into a barrage of tracks, combining most of the conventions of a trap artist and a hardcore metal act all in one; deafening sound, throaty vocals and a visceral crowd experience. The energy on stage does not drop for a moment, even between songs, as he teases the audience into forming massive circle pits that collide with force along to the frenetic sound coming from stage. In these brief breaks, Scarlxrd shows his calmer side too, holding fans’ hands while introducing tracks and even doing a shoey out of a lucky audience member’s shoe, a massive Australian tradition. But apart from these moments of lighthearted interactions, he is an absolute menace on stage, delivering harsh vocals over powerful and ultra-heavy beats that get everyone in the venue moving.
DJ Jacky P doubles as a hype man and does an excellent job stirring the crowd up, while the swirling lighting setup of the Howler itself turns an already great show into a true experience, vibrant colours and a multitude of flashing strobes captivating the crowd. The monstrous hour and a half-spanning set comes toward its end but only increases in momentum, the entire audience pulsing with the last energy they have as the set reaches a crescendo. Scarlxrd pours his soul into the performance as he pulls out some of his biggest hits and a couple of fan requests, finishing up to cheers and demands for more from the audience. He eventually bids the crowd goodnight as his set time is finally up, and gives the fans one last show of appreciation of all who came out to the last minute shows.
The entire event was powerful from start to finish, with opener Juñor setting the mood perfectly and getting everyone right up the front of the stage, using a range of cameos to heighten his set even further. Jacky P got the audience hyped up for Scarlxrd through an odd but effective combination of bangers, and when Scarlxrd himself hit the stage he turned the night into an amazing, noisy and visceral affair with hardhitting beats to coincide with his heavy vocal performance, a fitting way to finish off a year of touring for the U.K. artist. The energy he brings to his music is unreal, and his gigs are highly recommended for thrill seekers and fans alike, so don’t be surprised if you start seeing the name Scarlxrd pop up in more places, sooner rather than later.