Urban Chamber – Beyond is young people from Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs telling their own stories in a combination of rap, chamber music and dance.
The groups from Outer Urban Projects and the MASSIVE Hip Hop Choir worked with artistic and musical director Irine Vela, 63-year-old performance poet Komninos Zervos, MC Mary Quinsacara and dancer/choreographer Deon Nuku.
As someone who is no longer a kid, who grew up in the relatively genteel outer suburban Ferntree Gully, and is an atheist, for whom the overly-earnest songs about god were cloying, it wasn’t a work that spoke to me.
The kids sang and rapped of love, of home, and of their mothers, with Babz’ rap about his mother as a baby with a baby being the highlight, along with a short choreographed soccer match between the choreographer and SK Simeon. The girls gave consistently strong vocal performances.
It was a night about these kids’ stories, except when it inexplicably (and too frequently) became about Komninos, with the nadir of the evening being his ‘Baby Rap’, about the trials of having a young baby. It was like someone’s grandfather trying to show how hip he was – when that was really not at all the case – at their 18th birthday party.
Not helped by some audio problems and over-running its scheduled time, the evening was more earnest than celebratory, and the boys’ somewhat timid participation in the ensemble sections suggested that the on-stage mood wasn’t as positive as it tried to be.