Gig Review: Church & AP at The Hollywood Avondale, 10 October 2020

Auckland hip-hop duo Church & AP unleash infectious energy, and new tracks, in the heart of Avondale

“You know what’s crazy…?”

So teases Elijah Manu and Albert Purcell, better known as hip-hop duo Church & AP, on Saturday night at Avondale’s Hollywood Cinema.

The Auckland teens have just dominated the Pacific Music Awards winning an impressive four awards including Best Pacific Hip Hop Artist, and Best Pacific Group, for their debut album Teeth. The pair’s producer Dera Meelan took home Best Producer for his work on Teeth.

“We were just chilling, we walked away with four of them jaunes!” quips Church.

The rise of Church & AP has been explosive in Aotearoa’s exciting hip-hop scene. Since the release of their 2018 hit single Ready Or Not, they’ve been backed by industry heavyweights, and sold out headline shows across the country.

Tonight’s all-ages set is up to their usual standard; slick beats, catchy hooks, and high levels of infectious energy.

To start, there was a punchy mix of opening acts to keep keen arrivees entertained including local rapers PollyHill, Half Queen, and Fable.

The old Hollywood, worth an Uber split to get there, ended up being only about two thirds full by the time Church and AP bounce onto the stage. It was still a decent turnout, but less than I expected for YKK home turf. Their Dunedin show was sold out a few nights earlier.

The set begins with the R&B-infused War Outside – an assertive number that stakes their place in the local rap scene – to a crowd ready to dig right in.

From there, the songs transitioned seamlessly and with tight pace. Popular singles from Teeth, including Roulette and Dandelion, are highlights and bring up frequent collaborator Deadforest on-stage.

There was new stuff too. Their latest album, At Thy Feet, dropped it’s first half a few days ago, and tested out live tonight.

Roll It, a marijuana-soaked anthem, garnered whoops from the crowd, and a shout out to the referendum. Hometown tribute Oh Nine got everybody involved in callback, as did Yeah Nah.

Church & AP say they wan’t to put a message behind their music. They take a moment to pay their respects to their own musical heroes: Avondale rap royalty Tom Scott and Melodownz.

The night wrapped with Ready Or Not (still arguably their most well-known song) and clocked in at around 45 minutes of music.

They encored with Fire Sale, an upbeat and punchy crowd pleaser.

Church jokes: “Get to know the family now before the price is too high and you can’t talk to them no more.”