Eight time’s the charm, Mr. Carmack returned to the southern hemisphere for his “Original Sound” Live Tour this month which has seen him play a number of live shows and DJ sets around Australia and New Zealand. Mr. Carmack is widely known for his hard-hitting trap beats and the infamous ‘Pay (For What)’ track off his “Bang Vol. 3” album which samples Waka Flacka Flame’s ‘Rooster in my Rari’ (a personal fave).
Shortly after 10PM, I had the opportunity of just catching the last 15 mins of the support act, The Goods, which caught me by surprise as it seemed set times were running behind. The crowd was warm and vibing with the lead singer, probably more excited that it was a Saturday in my honest opinion. This was my first time seeing and hearing The Goods perform, an electronic synth-funk trio from Sydney. My thoughts? Mmmmmmmyeah… The production of their music was definitely on point and emanated some really good energy into the room, but I didn’t feel a sense of connection between the vocalist and the beats. It wasn’t a massive grab for me but as always, I appreciate local artists doing their thing and putting on for Sydney in a dying nightlife scene (fuck you, lockout laws).
Since the set times were running late, Aywy, another local came on stage just around 10:30PM playing some massive tunes to get our bodies and souls ready for Mr. Carmack. We decided to stand on the right side of the stage, in the same spot we once stood for a sold-out show for Snakehips. Looking to my left (facing one of the bars), I noticed a guy standing next to me: Denim jacket, a cap covering most of his face and a pair of thick-rimmed black glasses – definitely not for aesthetic. Me being extra on social media, I follow a lot of artists and producers I like on various platforms so I’m well-versed in the appearance of my true faves in the event that I am blessed with meeting them IRL. Coming back down to Earth, I finally recognise this guy standing next to me – holy fuck Poseidon and all of the other ancient Greek Gods, MR. CARMACK WAS STANDING NEXT TO ME!
I first contain myself and tap my friend (in front of me) on the shoulder and point a little finger to the left showing her. I’ve lost it. Mr. Carmack is just enjoying Aywy‘s set and I’m here getting jelly legs over ya boy. I figured this opportunity is not going to last so I had to grow some confidence; I tapped him on the shoulder and I said (of all things!!!), ‘You cheeky bugger!’ He laughs and replies, ‘What do you mean?’ Me freaking out, ‘It’s you! Mr. Carmack!’
From there I told him that a similar thing happened to me at Laneway 2015 whereby I was in the back of the crowd for Warpaint, and I realised I was standing next to Earl Sweatshirt. My friend and I asked Earl for a photo but he said he didn’t want to draw attention to himself; I thought the same for Mr. Carmack so I didn’t ask for one with him either. However, when I told him this story, he said “It’s because you’re magnetic.” – I swooned, one of my favourite producers telling me I’m magnetic, a girl’s gonna blush, ya feel me!
Comparing this moment to how I would react if I ever met Kanye West, I had a bunch of questions lined up for him and I wish I had decent ones to ask for the purpose of an interview – but I was selfish, I just had to know! I only asked/told him 3 things:
- Me: REASSURANCE//INSECURITY is my No.1 favourite track
Mr. Carmack: I’ll play it tonight for you.
- Me: You played a WDYW – Carnage flip at your Laneway 2017 set, is it yours?
Mr. Carmack: It’s actually one of my good friends, he hasn’t released it.
- Me: One more song you played at Laneway 2017 has been racking my brain for over a year, PLEASE TELL ME WHAT IT IS!
Mr. Carmack: Can you remember how it goes?
Obviously too intoxicated to recall the song, I replied “I’ll tweet it to you tonight!!!!!” and all the meanwhile (I was) crying inside. Funny enough during that, he pointed to his denim jacket and showed me that his beer had clipped onto the button of his jacket and was hanging from it – cue ‘Look ma, no hands’ – Waka Flocka Flame hahaha. When I saw it, it gave me an opportunity to say, ‘I have to take a photo of that!’ to document that yes, this really happened! (Meeting Mr. Carmack, not the beer on some wizardry). Here’s the photo below of hard evidence:
After that, he conversed with my friend and another girl on the other side of him, hugged us both goodbye and went backstage. The moment he left, I was in a daze! It felt as if there was no way my year could possibly be topped by this. Trying to come down from my high, we move closer to the stage and watched him set up.
Shortly after 10:15PM, music by The Clash starts to play and then switches up to some ethereal music – something new to me for a Carmack set. A piano comes in and so does Mr. Carmack and straight to the microphone; he sings – I’m gobsmacked. Music and vocals are taking me back to the time I saw Ta-ku play the most emotional set of 2015 where he performed his “Songs to Break Up To” almost in its entirety. This set was quite different for me, it was almost all new music and 90% piano, vocals and trumpet (YES! TRUMPET!) so I was surprised, but I was proud. I’ve only known Mr. Carmack to play hard-hitting trap sets with a few lowkey chill beats in there which are a favourite of mine also. Admittedly, I wish I did a bit more research into what the “Original Sound” Tour consisted of.
A lot of lyrics and soulful beats were musical interpretations of the inner workings of his soft and kind heart; I could tell – he would constantly close his eyes and place his hands on his heart/chest while belting out some major ‘deep-sea-diving-in-the-pool-of-feels’ lyrics:
“Is this the consequence? No time to run, no time to hide. Are you the one? Are you just the right time”
Mr. Carmack also brought on stage a young guy, Goodnight Cody who stunned me with his versatility – playing bass, electric guitar and the keys! They had such great energy together and his sound truly complimented what Carmack was trying to achieve. I believe what people had a hard time trying to comprehend is that this was no ordinary DJ set; hell I wouldn’t have even calledMr. Carmack a DJ at all. At times I heard the ungrateful people in the crowd chant, ‘PLAY TRAP MUSIC’ and ‘PAY FOR WHAT’ several times throughout the night which I’m sure has not been uncommon for Carmack during this tour around the world.
At one point, he did play ‘DIMEPEICE122‘ which made the crowd go wild, thinking that the piano sop was over, and it was time for trap, but boy, were we wrong! After reading more into his tweets, I learnt that the trap music he did play that night was made up of a particular thought process, understanding different elements and wavelengths leading up to each beat.
It made sense seeing him build up to each song, watching that thought process be translated into music and eventually into his most famous tracks. You can see the example here of how he slowly builds up to dropping ‘DIMEPEICE122’ – and everything is making sense that I’m this meme IRL:
As expected as well, he did play ‘Pay (For What)’ and part of me thinks it was just to shut those who were chanting up so he could continue riding the wavelength he was on. He ended his set with some groovy tunes (all new, mind you) which had my friend saying, “This is making me dance like Mary J. Blige!” – a compliment to the artistry, trust me.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed his new live set and I wish I didn’t come in with the expectation of non-stop bangers, because it truly wasn’t. For the first time, I felt like I was getting to know him (Mr. Carmack) on a personal level, behind the music. As he said in one of his tweets:
I’m feeling like a proud fan of his confidence and music trajectory; he’s bringing out a new wave, and a new way in which he expresses himself on stage and to travel halfway across the world and play a set of entirely new music? That’s brave AF. After this performance, he has won me over, again and again, and again. I’m so excited for him to bless my ears again and drop some more soulful music in his new element.
7 April 2018
Words and photography by Christine Aukusitino.