Music can do a lot of things to an individual, like create a sense of unity with perfect strangers, but to dole out superpowers that give you the ability to dance your toes numb while (almost) completely sober, now that’s something else. The OPIUO Band achieved this with their concoction of musical wizardry on Friday, May 5th.
Cairns’ very own The Jack was overflowing with every walk of life I could have imagined. From the 50-years-old-and-still-going-harder-than-me patrons, to the spritely hoop and poi dancers, it was hard to feel out of place even on my own. This eclectic sea of strangers, although seemingly worlds apart, had all gathered for one shared reason: the OPIUO tour was about to kick off.
Setting the tone for the evening was local DJ Daddy Long Legs, aka Loki Parsons. His collaborative style, combined with the friendly crowd, generated a festival vibe that carried itself throughout the night. Somehow, a room full of strangers had this overwhelming sense of family injected into each of us; a tribe of perfectly fitted misfits was born.
Ashcats Soundsystem was true to his name as he vaped his way, cool as a cat, through his set and got the crowd talking with his unique blend of electro swing and ghetto funk, followed by DJ Whichway, filling the dance floor with his own mixture of dub step and hip-hop. With the impending excitement of the main act approaching, the courtyard of The Jack was now beaming with enthusiastic fans and their new best friends.
OPIUO and his talented entourage created an energy that rightfully demanded that you lend them your ears and surrender control of your body. It was the type of music that wore a ‘no dancing skills necessary’ shirt, as certain parts of your body would react impulsively to the irresistible beats. Their ability to juggle two personas onstage while maintaining a level of consistency was most memorable. The five-piece band seamlessly transitioned from feeding the instrument-loving soul with suave saxophone, dirty bass and the uber impressive voice of their front woman, to OPIUO bringing out the stomper in all of us.
They warmed up the crowd with the band in full swing. The smooth notes of the saxophone, as loud as they were clear, danced playfully around the inspiring vocals - a voice so powerful that the walls pulsated like large speakers. Delivering hit after hit, it was impossible to carry on a conversation, as every time I tried, I would stop mid sentence with a ‘awwww helllll yeah!’ as a new beat dropped and I danced away any train of thought I may have been trying to maintain. Nobody minded though, we were all there for that very reason; to get lost in some damn good music. In keeping with the tribe-vibe, OPIUO himself put a stop to his set to identify an unnecessary altercation and tell the unwanted catalysts to “get the f*&# out of here, we are all about the love here”, to which the crowd replied in paramount approval.
An increasing level of euphoria was pulsing through the venue as OPIUO’s set reigned on. Heading to the beer garden for a smoke break, the band smoothly transitioned into one of my personal OPIUO favourites, Sneakers, revealing another thing I had in common with my new family. Suddenly the beer garden became a dancing-room-only area, and before I got swept up in the action, I managed to jot down a note of how impressive the sound production was. In between glitchy beats and perfectly timed drops, the quality of sound oozed profession. Each individual aspect of their performance was so loud, but still managed to compliment each other rather than drown another out. In my books, that comes from a shared passion and having confidence in one another, which was a beautiful thing to see unfold right in front of you.
Sending us home in high spirits were Tar-nay and Jeremiah Iniko. Tar-nay cooled down the dance floor with his melodic dub step, and Iniko closed the set with rhythmic drum and bass. As the tribe dissolved, the vibe did not. The progression of the night had left us all with an everlasting experience, uniting us still as we walked out the doors.
Reviewer: Jade Pullar