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Floods, Cyclones and ‘Roundies’: On The Road With Urthboy

Rapper’s ‘Crushing Hard’ tour takes him on a full lap of the country.

All through March and into April, Tim Levinson (aka Urthboy) criss-crossed the country with pals Joyride and Alice Ivy, playing over a dozen shows in promotion of “Crushing Hard”, the latest single lifted from his acclaimed 2016 LP, The Past Beats Inside Me Like A Second Heartbeat. Along with the wild weather, the rapper dealt with the daily running of his label, Elefant Traks, as well as a pair broken ribs. Levinson recently ran us through the ups-and-downs of the tour, collected here alongside candid photos from his DJ (and budding photographer) Jayteehazard.

All words below by Tim Levinson. All photos as credited.

urthboy pair
Levinson (right) with Jayteehazard. Credit: Cole Bennetts.

Friday, March 3rd: The Gov, Adelaide
We started the tour in Adelaide. A couple of days prior to leaving, I found out I had two broken ribs I didn’t want to see a doctor in case they told me I couldn’t fly. I’m not sure what was the better omen, that or the fact that we were playing on the same night as Hilltop Hoods, Seth Sentry and Funkoars.

Saturday, March 4th: Capitol, Perth
Sunday, March 5th: Settlers Tav, Margaret River
We flew to Perth and played the same night as Atmosphere and Brother Ali; Drapht and Spit Syndicate, One Day Sundays and Downsyde. One genre, four different shows. What a time to be alive.

The final show of the leg was a spectacular show at Settlers in Margies. I had a difficult conversation with a bloke who couldn’t believe I didn’t remember his name. We’d met once about 6 or 7 years earlier in a short freestyle after a Herd gig.

Thursday, March 9th: Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Friday, March 10th: Corner Hotel, Melbourne
The best thing about selling out and doing second shows is not just the money, it’s the waking up and not having to drive/fly/checkout the morning after. Loved both these shows.

urthboy soldout
Credit: Jayteehazard

urthboy live2
Credit: Cole Bennetts

Saturday, March 11th: Republic Bar, Hobart
It was about 2am, Joyride and I hanging outside of the Republic Bar on Elizabeth St in Hobart. A few stragglers spill out the door and take turns to pose for selfies while a cheerful bloke stops and asks me if I want a roundie.

“What’s a roundie?” I ask

“It’s a pill.” he replies and Joyride giggles (that I didn’t know what it was).

“No thanks mate.”

At the same moment a wildly drunk old guy enters the conversation, asking Joyride if he was in the band. He shook his head and the guy apologised, it was a stab in the dark as he hadn’t seen any of the bands.

Admittedly, old legless mate’s timing was magnificent, as he overheard the guy talking about the ’roundie’ and asked how much. In a moment of ecstasy-induced happiness, old bloke hands old mate a pill for free. Old mate raises both hands in the air in triumph.

“I fucking love you so much. This is the best night ever!” He fumbled the tablet into his wallet and stumbled a wavy line down the street and into the darkness.

Thanks Hobart.

urthboy tour
Credit: Jayteehazard

Thursday, March 16th: Long Jetty Hotel, Long Jetty
Friday, March 17th: Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
I love Newcastle so much I almost accidentally moved there before realising that the commute to work in Sydney would be too hectic – at least for now. Last year’s show at the Cambridge was almost perfect. This year gale force winds and torrential rain didn’t stop 500 people from singing along with us. Newcastle is the fuckin best.

Saturday, March 18th: Blue Mountains Music Festival
This gig started out weird af, with the civilised older people in seats that took up the majority of space, and the underage section cordoned off to the side. It was almost comical going from the respectful theatre-type audience to the kids going absolutely ham on the side. After 3 songs the organisers – in their infinite wisdom – opened up the whole thing and the kids invaded the oldies section. It went from weird to incredible in half a verse. Rain was turning up wherever we went. This festival was under water and one whole stage was abandoned the next day.

Thursday, March 23rd: ANU Bar, Canberra
Friday, March 24th: Garden Party, Wollongong
Saturday, March 25th: Factory Theatre, Sydney
It was pissing down, of course. Just like every night, Alice Ivy was energetic and infectious, playing in front of sparse early crowds. Joyride followed and just like every night, had the crowd in hysterics, hanging on to every word and song – even though they knew none of them. Yet. Canberra was an amazing show!

Winning an award or being officially acknowledged by industry peers is not humbling, despite people often employing that word. Watching a crowd slowly thin out over the course of your performance is humbling. That was Garden Party in Wollongong for us — a festival of indie pop and rock surprisingly drew a crowd of indie pop and rock fans. The dudes who organised it are killing it in the Gong — they’re doing unreal things. But apart from the legendary diehards who stuck with us, this gig kinda sucked.

Sydney was mad. A full house at the Factory was the perfect way to follow the Gong show. Then we threw a massive after party and Joyride and Jayteehazard DJ’d all night.

urthboy live
Credit: Cole Bennetts

Thursday, March 30th: Miami Marketta, Gold Coast
Friday, March 31st: The Northern, Byron Bay
Saturday, April 1st: The Triffid, Brisbane
Half the band were en route to Sydney domestic airport when reports started coming through about Gold Coast being smashed by ex-Cyclone Debbie. Tour Manager Todd was making calls but flights were being cancelled like dominoes and we went into crisis management. Within an hour Coolangatta Airport was shut down and the venue told us to cancel the show. Fuck.

I don’t quite know how to explain the internal confusion I felt — a combination of stress (ticket refunds? reorganising logistics? sorting out my band? suddenly looking at not having $8k-$10k in the tour kitty) and disorientation (I’m about to get on a plane and do 3 important shows but… now I just go… to work?). Manager Mondo was all over everything, making calls — our logistics person was rebooking flights — we re-routed to Brisbane the next day in case Cooly Airport remained closed.

urthboy nightCredit: Jayteehazard

Next day we tried again. Flew to Brisbane and waited for an hour while Virgin tried to locate our stage equipment they lost (it was found the next day). We will never know if that delay was the difference between making it across the bridge between Tweed Heads and Kingscliff before it was closed. We tried an alternative route and drove until the flood waters rose a metre or so above the road. We couldn’t get a categorical answer about when the main bridge would reopen (most people said it’d be the next day) so we drove back, sat in gridlock for hours. Eventually, parts of Tweed Heads was being evacuated — so we had to turn around. There was no other way we could get to Byron.

Byron Bay was now cancelled. The combination of stress and disorientation kicked in again. The gravity of the situation became clear and our proximity to a looming national disaster brought perspective to the situation. As I formulated Facebook posts reassuring punters they’d be refunded, expressing my solidarity with anyone affected by the floods, my heart sunk. The vast majority of people were understanding; many were relieved about the cancellations as they were literally homeless or stranded due to the flooding.

On the third day we rose again, and played a mad show at The Triffid in Brisbane. It was really dope, but despite the lack of shows, I was worn out after the last few days and happy to head home, somehow completely exhausted.

urthboy flood2
Credit: Jayteehazard

urthboy flood
Credit: Jayteehazard

urthboy bush
Credit: Jayteehazard

Thursday, April 6th: Railway Club, Darwin
Friday, April 7th: Railway Club, Darwin
I love Darwin. We had all sorts of plans to make the most of our stay but we just flaked at the Lagoon, slept, ate food and played two unforgettable shows at Rails.

Saturday, April 8th: Gap View Hotel, Alice Springs
What a weird, spectacular town Alice Springs is to spend less than a day. One person told us not to trust ‘countrymen’ (local code for Aboriginal) while another told us to come to the casino because that’s the only place ‘countrymen’ are allowed in (the casino won’t turn a dollar down), and therefore is the real Alice Springs. Left with more questions than I came with.

urthboy solo
Credit: Jayteehazard

The Crushing Hard Tour was enormous. It came at one of the busiest starts to a year I can remember. My job at Elefant Traks ran every day that I wasn’t on tour so I was effectively working 7 days a week for about 6 or 7 weeks. It took its toll and that’s not including trying to perform live with broken ribs. But to spend an hour-and-a-half performing songs and seeing such incredible responses from audiences all over the country – that’s one of the best things in the world. I felt a huge sense of gratitude that I can do this, and people pay to see us perform songs. If that was you, thank you.