Reviewed on Saturday July 19 (photo by Laura Arango)
If you have never been to Sofar Sounds before – either in Sydney, or at one of the myriad other locations across the globe – you’re missing out on this modern-day medicine show. Every month there’s a new amateur venue – July’s event saw us in someone’s upstairs apartment in Newtown – and a different surprise lineup. It is a spectacular way to stumble upon new music, and props must go to the organisers for curating such disparate performances.
First up was Marcus Corowa, a man with an impressive register and accomplished voice. He began with a cover of ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ and did a fine job, but there was something about opening the set with a cover that somehow irked me without any real justification. Perhaps it was because the rest of his performance then sat in comparison, and although his own songs are pleasant, easy-listening numbers, they suffered from being too generic in theme and lyric.
Electronic act Patches’ equipment looks like something from a Terry Gilliam film. His modular synthesiser (home-made) is a box with brightly coloured tubing running from it, like a suitcase given a bizarre transfusion. The soundscapes he created were impressive feats of almost hypnotic control, and simply watching him manipulate the device, swaying over the levers and dials, was an entertainment in itself. His set did stretch a little long, and although it was wonderfully intricate and colourful, by the final song the attention of the crowd had begun to drift.
Third act Hannah Marjorie delivered the highlight of the night. Her stage manner and songwriting had the crowd instantly smitten. Impressive – however it’s difficult to really astound someone with whimsy and ukulele alone, and so her set really took off once bandmates from country-folk quartet All Our Exes Live In Texas joined her for several songs. It sounds a little mawkish, but I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face while they performed. Their camaraderie was utterly charming, and their harmonies sublime.
Finally we had King Colour, an engaging if earnest band who impressed from their very first note. Their odd blend of psychedelic-surfer-pop-meets-the-Chili-Peppers grabs you and doesn’t let go, and though they were slightly unpolished these guys are total entertainers and well worth catching in the flesh. Though they also suffered from songs needing a trim here and there, they had the audience on their feet and provided a chill cover of ‘Valerie’ to bookend the night. Great times.