Avery Jones, known by his stage name ‘Kota the Friend’, has been in the music scene since 2016 when he first released ‘Palm Tree Liquor’. Despite being in the music industry already for 6 years, I still believe he’s underrated since he brings a fresh feel to the table. Kota the Friend was meant to bring his FLIGHT NIGHT Tour to Australia and New Zealand back in 2021 but it was rescheduled to this year.
Kota the Friend’s music gives a sense of self-belief. He’s not rapping about your typical party life and liquor. Instead, his music is a deep reflection of his character and what matters to him most, being his family which throughout his albums you can see that he has a plethora of interludes dedicated to his loved ones, and he also mentions a lot about the different cities he genuinely adores. I think it’s cool that his name is inspired by Disney’s Brother Bear – ‘Koda’ meaning ‘friend’.
I expected Kota the Friend’s Melbourne show to be a small and intimate chilled-out vibe, but the crowd were passionate and showed up in droves. Packed into the pit at Melbourne’s iconic music venue 170 Russell on Thursday the 8th of December, the fans excitedly equally matched Kota’s contagious energy.
With the electricity in the room, you could really tell that this performance had been a long time coming. Kota the Friend hailing all the way from Brooklyn, New York, kicked off the show in Melbourne with some of his top hits including ‘Hollywood’, ‘Church’, and ‘Sedona’. The fans have been waiting a hot minute for him to come down to Australia and to see the mutual love, admiration and respect between both fan and artist was amazing.
Kota the Friend’s lyrical flow was out of this world, he exceeded my expectations when it came to performing. My favourite part of his performance was his acapella moments. His uncanny effortlessly ability to spit rhymes is truly remarkable, reminding me of a real soul rap style. Getting to hear him perform live, for me, honestly took his discography to the next level. If you were in the heart of audience and had a smart watch on, I would be keenly curious to see your step count. Because I can guarantee you, those numbers would be through the roof since Kota had everyone in the venue jumping from the get-go.
In true Aussie fashion, a fan handed Kota the Friend a beer and the entire room cheered him on to drink it. However, Kota reminisced on the wise words from his mum advising him that is to never cave under pressure, and from sharing this, the crowd cheered him even harder. I really loved that. Although he was all about making his supporters happy, he still stayed true to himself – something that we don’t see often in society, and it was a very special and raw moment.
Kota the Friend also spoke about how he struggled with the uncertainties during the pandemic. Like many, he didn’t really know what was to come of the pandemic, so he started writing music and in turn, was the result of his most recent album released this year, ‘MEMO’.
Kota was so excited to perform it for the first time in Melbourne, Australia but was even more shocked and touched when the whole venue crowd were singing along all these new songs back to him. It is evident that the love for him here in Melbourne is still thriving after a few years of not being able to tour internationally and be amongst his dedicated Australian fans. Everyone in the room had the biggest smiles on their faces during his entire performance, Kota included, and this just shows the impact that both he and his music has in the industry.
Kota shared that the favourite of all his songs is ‘Colorado’. A song that constantly reminds him about getting to your goals and is a ‘tunnel vision straight to the shit that he loves’. I genuinely loved the little anecdotes he shared with each song that he performed, and the powerful significance his music has on him. My favourite song of the night, however, was ‘Chicago Diner’, an affectionate and respectful narrative about an independent woman that he adores, wishing her nothing but positive vibes and producing understanding with the lyrics, “If we keep it honest, we don’t need no label. Love is everything and everything is love”. The song is actually surprisingly wholesome.
Towards the end of his performance, Kota grabbed a couple up on stage, two of his biggest fans that had let him know they had postponed their own wedding when they found out he was performing in Melbourne and changed their wedding so that they could attend his concert. You could see how overjoyed the couple was to not only see Kota the Friend perform live, but to also be acknowledged personally and pulled up on stage for the rest of the show would have been so wonderful to experience. Another special moment at Kota the Friend’s Melbourne concert!
All in all, I was thoroughly impressed with Kota the Friend, his charisma, lyrical flow, and genuine essence was phenomenal to witness first-hand, and I can’t wait for his next visit to Melbourne again!
Kota the Friend performed in Melbourne at 170 Russell on Thursday December 8th, is headed to Brisbane this Saturday the 10th of December for his final Australian concert of his FLIGHT NIGHT Tour before heading to Auckland, New Zealand on the 13th of December.
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Photography by Michael Nguyen.