Buzzing UK emcee Knucks touched down in Melbourne briefly on Friday in amongst his busy Laneway Festival tour schedule across Australia and New Zealand, entertaining a packed house at the Croxton Band Room on the city’s northside.

During a day of downpours, one could have been forgiven for thinking it was July instead of February, yet the weather did not dampen any spirits with the sold-out crowd building well before doors, everyone clambering to get a spot close to the stage for the North-West London talent first Naarm show.

The multi-talented AUSSIE BLACKSTAR Blessed was appropriately called upon for support duties, with his innovative soundscape across rap, electronic, and indie an ideal mood setter for a crowd who seemed less interested in a raucous party, and more in a night of genuine artistic appreciation.

Emerging into the global hip-hop landscape via 2019’s NRG 105 Knucks sits in a unique lane, fusing elements of traditional jazz sampled boom-bap with more more modern, popularised UK Drill aesthetics; all of which is underpinned by a refined pen game and ultra-descriptive storytelling. Releasing via his own independent collective NO DAYS OFF, Knucks creates with flair and freedom, intent on shining a spotlight on the all-too relatable tales from his inner-city London upbringing.

Listening to his most recent 2022 project ALPHA PLACE (one of my top 3 of last year) feels more like running through a season of Top Boy on Netflix than it does listening to a full-length album, with each track a pivotal episode in understanding the overarching narrative. And just as you develop an affinity for characters on the show, you become familiar with, and feel a connection to Knucks and his warm delivery.

As do his marketing and rollouts, Knucks‘ live show is undertaken with minimal theatrics, prefering to let the art do the talking. A DJ, hype-man and some moodlighting were the only components necessary to entertain a willing crowd, each of whom were down to be tested on their loyalty and longevity to an artist clearly on the rise as he played through his back catalogue for the majority of the set.

Knucks is not a guy who feels the need to jump around, pander or raise his voice to generate energy; most of that was provided by the audience who sang along faithfully to records like ‘Home‘ and the Breaking Bad inspired ‘Los Pollos Hermanos’. To some disappointment, he steered away from crowd chants requesting performances of recent hits ‘Nice & Good‘ feat. SL and ‘Die Hard’ feat. Stormzy, cleverly ensuring punters enjoyed the show but were left wanting more of their headliner.

Photos by Jayden Duhau @jd.photograhy

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