Music

Cardi B’s Field Day Set Was A Near-Perfect Way To Start 2019

Cardi B censored herself for no-one -- not even the flogs, wankers and dude-bros plaguing the crowd.

Cardi B at Field Day

No rapper in the past couple of years has had such a meteoric rise as Cardi B.

After years of working for it, the past two years were totally dominated by her unfiltered, uncensored presence. She’s the first and only female rapper to have three US #1 singles, is nominated for five Grammy awards – including Album of the Year – and she’s one of the most talked about celebrities on the planet right now.

Therefore you couldn’t really colour anyone surprised when her 7:15pm set at Field Day on the Centre Stage saw the biggest crowd of the day.

As her hype man/DJ worked up the crowd with your standard hip-hop bangers, six backup dancers flanked in identical wigs, outfits and sunglasses took formation around a gold, pyramid-like structure as the goddess herself strutted her way up while rapping Invasion of Privacy opener ‘Get Up 10’.

From there, anyone watching her stacked set never got a chance to catch their breath, and that was fine by us. Standing on that stage with cotton candy hair and a gleaming smile across her face, she absolutely glowed for her second-ever Australian show. She relentlessly attacked every song with a fierce attitude and contagious confidence that Field Day has seldom seen before.

Cardi B at Field Day. Photo: Mikki Gomez.

In fact, she rapped damn near the entirety of her debut album – sans ‘Thru Your Phone’ and ‘I Do’ – and also took on the seemingly impossible task of working all of her most notable featured verses in there too. Her raps on ‘No Limit’, ‘Motorsport’, ‘Finesse’ and even the tragic Maroon 5 song ‘Girls Like You’ all made appearances — and the crowd hung on every word.

 She relentlessly attacked every song with fierceness, an attitude and a contagious confidence that Field Day has seldom seen before.

But by far the most appealing part of Cardi’s debut Sydney set was her unashamed and unapologetic feminism — something literally every Australian festival could use more of. Her celebration of her womanhood was exactly the foot we all need to begin 2019 on.

Whether it was through her exploration of on-stage sexuality via the best twerk an Australian crowd has ever seen, or getting pretty real in-between songs about how hard it is to be halfway across the world from her infant daughter, Cardi censored herself for no-one — not even the flogs, wankers and dude-bros plaguing the crowd.

Two men around me, in particular, were just thrashing themselves around for no real reason, continually speaking aggressively to several women, despite them expressing clear discomfort.

It’s frustrating, because that behaviour contrasts with everything Cardi B is about. In her music and her very public personal life, Cardi makes it blatantly clear that she refuses to be held back or tied down by a man and his shitty actions, even in a male-dominated industry like hip-hop.

Cardi B at Field Day. Photo: Mikki Gomez.

If these bros weren’t going to listen to anyone in the crowd, they, as fans, surely should be listening to Cardi. She said it best in a slight lyric change during ‘Be Careful’: “it’s not a threat, it’s a motherfucking warning.”

Then again, Australian crowds have had a very… er… complicated relationship with acts like The Smith Street Band and Azealia Banks, who have called out Aussie audiences for their aggressive and even violent behaviour.

In recent years, more and more Australian acts (Camp Cope, Kira Puru, Courtney Barnett, Miss Blanks, Gang Of Youths, Luca Brasi, Stella Donnelly, for starters) have been very vocal that their gigs are safe spaces — especially for women — and that they’re not going to tolerate their fans engaging in abuse or harassment.

Even though Cardi B is far from perfect, she’s proof that an empowered woman can empower women. Despite all the shit that has been thrown her way this year — whether it’s her manipulative ex-husband trying to publicly guilt her into taking her back, or the constant detraction of her fame and acclaim due to her past — Cardi B shines regardless.

It’s pretty apparent that some festival bookers and dude-bros alike don’t take women seriously — or even bother to hear them — but when you see 28,000 odd people rap along to the entirety of ‘Bodak Yellow’, it’s pretty hard not to pay attention.


Feature image by Mikki Gomez.