Over the course of 2017, Sydney sextet Winston Surfshirt have propelled themselves from relative obscurity to the mainstream music scene. The neo-soul, hip-hop leaning group’s debut album, Sponge Cake, received Feature Album status on triple j and the group were praised by none other than Sir Elton John. This rise has culminated in a massive Australian tour in support of Sponge Cake, with most shows on the tour selling out completely. Joining Winston Surfshirt were fellow Sydney band Polographia, who ironically gave Winston Surfshirt their start when featuring on ‘Sly’.
Although Polographia’s tunes emit a seriously funky vibe, there was a lack of presence when it came to performing live. The duo, consisting of Moktar Sharouny on keys and Daniel Finn behind the tubs, were light on for support on-stage. The obvious inclusion would be to introduce a vocalist; not only for singing, but also to interact with the crowd, which the Polographia pair weren’t naturally comfortable doing. It was particularly evident that Polographia would benefit from a vocalist when they brought out Winston Surfshirt to perform ‘Sly’, as it was by far the highlight of their set.
Winston Surfshirt put in a mammoth, high octane set, packed with numerous covers, hilarious moments and a full rendition of their debut album. For a band that oozes a cool, laidback attitude, their on-stage performance is anything but that. In the hour they spent playing, they ran through every song on Sponge Cake, a commendable effort considering there’s 16 tracks on the record. The best moments were by far the rendition of singles ‘Same Same’, ‘Ali D’ and ‘Be About You’, which were met with elation from the audience. No matter how commendable it is, the set began to wear thin and become a touch too tedious over the course of the hour. That was until Winston disappeared from the stage, only to resurface atop a table in the middle of the Corner band-room. This recaptured the attention of the crowd and set the scene for the remainder of the performance.
Following a short breather, the six-piece re-emerged to deliver a bunch of covers, including Fatman Scoop’s ‘Be Faithful’ with the help of Crooked Letter. As soon as the band began playing the song, the crowd immediately began bouncing. Just when everyone thought the moment couldn’t be topped, Winston bettered it by performing the hit of 2017, Kendrick Lamar’s ‘HUMBLE.’. It was an enormous note to finish on, but the casual groovers turned hip-hop lords recited the track with incredible style, only as Winston Surfshirt could. It was an unexpected, absurd but, above all, a perfect conclusion to the set.