If you hadn’t heard that Hilltop Hoods had sold out their gig at University of Canberra, you’d figure it out within seconds of seeing the line outside the venue. But after their great performance at Groovin’ The Moo earlier this year, it’s unlikely many were surprised at the turnout. And those who were surprised? Those new to Hilltop Hoods’ live show? They were in for a treat.

Shepparton rapper Briggs opened the night, and there was no doubt that he got the crowd moving.

Hands flying into the air as he moved around the stage, Briggs drew a few singalong moments out of the growing crowd, and although his enunciation at times felt unclear and muddled, there were more than enough lines to show that he’s got talent in parts.

On top of this, his flow was on point. It didn’t pull any surprise punches, but fit every song well enough – something many rappers fail to do.

However, it was impossible to ignore the repeated use of “fuck yeah’s” and in particular, the gun sounds on “Rather Be Dead”.

While both drew large crowd reactions, and both have their place when used cleverly and in moderation, in Briggs’ case it felt like they leant towards being more infantile than truly entertaining. But if the crowd is roaring, why try and fix what clearly isn’t broken? Briggs did a solid job of opening the night for what is undeniably a rather large act.

Horrorshow took to the stage next, and thankfully their lines sounded much clearer. As great as Adit sounded behind the decks, it was hard not to watch Solo’s every move as he leapt around, encouraging the crowd to jump along with him. And did they jump!

Horrorshow performed a strong mix of their work, moving between their more evocative, personal lyrics; and their songs made purely for dancing, while huge portions of the crowd were busy throwing up their hands in support.

If it wasn’t clear before this moment, it became clear then – Canberra loves its hip-hop – and Horrowshow provided them with a decent fix of it.

Finally, Pressure, Suffa, and DJ Debris took to the stage – joined by producer One Above on keys and Plutonic Lab on drums.

They quickly launched into a string of tracks that covered a chunk of their new album Drinking From The Sun, but they didn’t forget to dip into their extensive back catalogue too.

“I Love It”, their single with Sia Furler, began with a very sombre tone, before launching right into the full, blasting hit.

“Chase That Feeling” produced what felt like the biggest singalong of the night, and “The Nosebleed Section” can only be described as huge.

Suffa and Pressure ran around the stage, showing love to everyone in the venue, and their performance was spot on. With a tight backing band, they held up their end of the deal, rarely (if ever) missing a beat.

Thankfully, they’d dropped the irritating stop-start games they tried at Groovin’ The Moo – not that they needed to wind up the insane crowd at the Refectory anyway.

After leaving for a few minutes, they returned for an encore, closing with “Rattling The Keys To The Kingdom” from Drinking From The Sun.

One of the best gauges of a crowd’s engagement at a gig is how little of the stage you can actually see from within the crowd, and with rows and rows of arms flying around almost constantly, Hilltop Hoods proved to us that they’ve still got it. Everyone loved it.

– Jeremy Stevens