The Yahoo! On the Road tour arrived in Milan, Italy on June 21st for a pair of performances from Italian stars Fabri Fibra and Parix at the Magazzini Generali.
A brief conversation in Milan about Fabri Fibra, Italy's biggest modern hip-hop star and the figure single handedly responsible for breaking rap music into the Italian mainstream:
"So Fabri's aggressive? Like, do we have to worry?"
"No hold on, we have to explain this right… It's not that he's aggressive it's- come si dice?"
"He doesn't give a f**k."
The Yahoo! On the Road tour has made its way to Milan, Italy for a fiery pair of sets from Italian artists Fabri Fibra and Parix. Each act are known for their fusion of pop, punk and hip hop into stripped back but wild performances. The show took place in the Magazzini Generali and you couldn't have asked for a better venue. Falling somewhere between a miniaturized warehouse and a cave, the space had a ramshackle urban charm which perfectly matched the attitude of both performers.
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Opening act Parix gets straight to business, barely taking a moment to say 'Ciao' to the crowd before ripping into the synthed up burbles of first song "Mai Alle Feste." The sound of Parix and his group is somewhere between punk and dance music- an aural sneer accompanying each spat out lyric before intertwining backing harmonies delicately glisten through the haze atop pounding club beats. It manages to be snarling and polished at once.
This comes through in the band's stage presence as well- a mixture of tightly rehearsed musicality and tossed off nihilism; the band clearly feel they have nothing to prove. In all likelihood Parix does actually care whether or not the crowd likes him, and needless to say they do, but by putting up a wall between himself and the audience he manages to make the performance all the more intriguing (in a 'being mean to your crush' kind of way).
An indisputable highlight of the set was when Parix introduced his guest performer: Italian beat boxer Rise. Parix and co actually left the stage upon his first appearance, allowing Rise to wow the crowd with three solid minutes of genuinely unreal solo beat boxing. Running through a gambit of styles- drum and bass, dub step, house and more, he got the entire place jumping purely from the percussive power of his voice and tongue. He was then rejoined by Parix and his group for a final rip-roaring cover/remix of headliner Fabri Fibra's song 'Guerra e Pace'- during which the whole backbeat was provided by Rise, lending a fantastically organic swagger to the proceedings. A great capper to a blistering twenty minute performance.
The love Fabri garners from his crowd borders on cultish. At no other stop on the tour so far have we had as many people crying out for the headline act to make their appearance. From every direction in the ten minutes between Parix and Fabri's set all you can hear are cries and moans of 'FABRI!' When the man himself finally does arrive the amount of screams from the crowd- especially from the ladies- reaches critical mass (the sound is a bit like a bomb made of cats exploding).
Huge descending bass lines which seem to ripple off of God's own double standup usher Fabri forward, wild eyes searching out over the crowd from the shadows of a baseball cap and hoodie. Unusually for a hip hop artist, he holds the stage solo (barring a DJ behind the decks at the back of the stage) throughout his whole set. No hype men, no dancers, no real flash (outside of some projected background imagery)- it's a raw and propulsive set reflective of Fabri's own style and presence.
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His sound is a nervy mix of vinyl scratches, chewy bass and crisp snare cracks. This can be heard to particularly excellent effect on the paranoia attack of track 'Panico,' which can be seen below.
The song finds Fabri ruminating on 'nightmares of friends dancing away like acrobats' and 'flipping through memories in a photo portfolio like winds that slam you against a rock.' It's rap concerned with dissecting mental landscapes and the way we project ourselves outwards in society. From the spellbound bouncing of the crowd it's clear he's hitting his mark.
The whole time watching Fabri, I keep flipping back to that initial local introduction I had to the artist: "He doesn't give a f**k." To an extent this seems very true: there's something in Fabri's attitude of a wary animal let loose on the prowl, lips held grim and tight. His body language is a phrase book of closed off aggression- all crossed arms and head dipped down, though needless to say it doesn't stop the crowd from lapping up every word bursting out from the stacks of speakers on either side of the stage.
However it's also not an attitude which lasts the whole set, as Fabri undergoes a transformation both emotional and physical over the course of the show. Slowly the 'armour' of his hoodie (by song seven) and hat (by song nine) are stripped away. By the end of the performance he's even cracking smiles and joking with the crowd. It's these moments when the paranoid intensity drops and his grin breaks free where the real magic happens, and his persona clicks into place in my head. It's no wonder the crowd adores him as much as they do. He's like a wild beast who finally acquiesces to your touch: a moment that can't be forced- you need to let him come to you in his own way and time. But when it happens and you make that connection, you feel as if you've earned the trust of a friend who will forever fight for you tooth and claw. That's something to shout 'FABRI!' about at the top of your lungs.
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