It may have been raining on Saturday night, but inside Max Watt’s it was steamy. The room was packed for a near sold-out show from up-and-coming R&B star Brent Faiyaz. In Australia for the first time, the Goldlink collaborator kept the crowd enamoured for a little over an hour.
The night got off to a slow start, as Faiyaz hit the stage about 20 minutes late. With no support on the night, the delay was very obvious. A quick look at his Facebook page, however, told me that this wasn’t unusual. In fact, we were lucky it wasn’t much longer. The crowd seemed content though, and as the velvet curtains finally drew back any wrongdoing was forgiven.
At first glance, Faiyaz looks exactly like your typical Soundcloud/Instagram famous rapper. He strolled onto the stage dressed in an oversized jacket over a shirt patterned with money, cuffed jeans and bright orange Nikes. But as soon as he opened his mouth, we could see why he’s become one of the most hyped new acts in R&B. His band launched into the first song with ease, and Faiyaz looked as if he’d been performing for decades. He was full of emotion, crooning about girls and friends, and he barely stood still throughout the set.
One highlight of the set was ‘Gang Over Luv’, a track from Faiyaz’s first album Sonder Son that sounded like it was straight out of the early 1990s. ‘Talk 2 U’ was another standout, with the crowd singing along to the repetitive chorus. It was interesting to see a young couple in matching hi-top shoes swaying along next to a towering man in a Steve Austin shirt, but I guess that’s reflective of Faiyaz’s broadening appeal. Tracks from Sonder Son were the most popular of the night, but considering his latest EP Lost only came out last October this wasn’t surprising.
Things got slightly weirder towards the end of the night. Faiyaz tried to walk off the stage, only to have to cross back to the correct exit. The band played on, hyping up the crowd to get him to come back. This wasn’t an encore though – it seemed Faiyaz had just taken a little break. He came back and jumped off stage into the arms of the crowd, who sang Goldlink’s ‘Crew’ (Faiyaz’s breakout track) as he danced around in front of the stage. As he climbed back on stage, the band threw it back to a 2016 track ‘No One Knows’. It was clear the crowd were hardcore fans, as most of them knew the words despite the song being from before he rose to fame.
The actual encore was a bit of a mess. Faiyaz returned to the stage with no shirt, just wearing his jacket from the beginning of the show. He launched into ‘Trust’, the most well-known track from Lost. Within 30 seconds, he’d thrown his jacket into the crowd, making one fan very happy. He jumped into the crowd multiple times, hugging and jumping around with the front row. The odd part was that he never sang into the mic at all – the audience carried the entire track themselves. At the end of the two-and-a-half-minute track, he left without a word, and his hype man grabbed the mic to tell us all about merch and where to go for the meet-and-greets. It was a reminder that despite Faiyaz’s urban vibe, his shows are a very slick operation.
Overall though, it was a show that would’ve left most fans pretty pleased. Despite the short run time, Faiyaz showed why he deserves the attention he’s getting, and left us all wanting to do it again in the future.
Review + photos – Georgia Griffiths