The Pharcyde at The Beresford in Sydney

The Pharcyde’s Sydney show made Sonia Clarke‘s face hurt. In a good way:  

Nothing could have made me feel older at The Pharcyde gig than cadging a cigarette (I will be quitting next week OF COURSE) off a guy who wasn’t even a twinkle in his mother’s eye when Bizarre Ride II was released.

Let me repeat that: when The Pharcyde released their classic first album, this guy had not yet been born.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should admit that I was only nine. The year was 1992 and I was also terminally uncool and trapped in a suburban nightmare of my parents’ making, therefore would not be hearing their music for some time. But when I did, I loved it. Despite an unpromising start, I spent the 90’s secretly besotted with hip hop (along with a nice line in cheesy R’n’B and bangin’ UK garage), hidden behind a flimsy veneer of peer-pressured Britpop love.

Hip hop’s lyrical forays into misogyny and violence are well documented. But The Pharcyde – much like oft-compared De la Soul and A Tribe Called Quest – veered well away from this with beautiful beats and thoughtful rhymes. The tunes from that seminal first album, and those that followed in Labcabincalifornia (the latter actually my favourite, somewhat controversially), still sound fresh today. Uncomplicated, and I mean that in the best possible way: like a not a cloud in the sky day, when you have nothing to do and are in a good mood for no particular reason.

So it’s safe to say I was excited (and not a little surprised) that a Sydney show was imminent.

I’ve always been more familiar with The Beresford when crushed against the bar on a Saturday night, so the venue seemed an odd choice, but actually worked perfectly. Small enough for everyone to be within spitting distance of the stage but big enough to not feel cramped, a sold-out crowd was growing noticeably restless before Imani and Bootie Brown bounced out.

The two decades that have passed, and the mixed fortunes of their projects (both as a group and individually) since releasing those two classic albums don’t seem to have diminished their enthusiasm for the material. A tight one-hour set saw a note-perfect trip down memory, taking in tunes like Oh Shit, Ya Mama, and Soul Flower.

Finishing on (what else?) Runnin, this gig was like a big bubble of happiness in a face-hurts-from-grinning-too-much kind of way. I floated home on that bubble of happiness, aided and abetted by the 333.



Review by Sonia Clarke