Auckland’s Ha The Unclear swung back around from Ballarat for their second Melbourne show, this time at the Grace Darling, in support of their Secret Lives of Furniture single tour of Melbourne/Ballarat/Adelaide. This comes off the back of their 2014 album Bacterium, Look At Your Motor Go that has enjoyed plenty of praise back home in Auckland as well as a growing support overseas. Having just supported Courtney Barnett on her recent tour in New Zealand, it was the guys’ turn to repay the favour and give Melbourne a pretty good idea of why they were handpicked for the job. Tonight the support comes from Gumboot and Lisa Salvo.
First up for the evening was local three-piece Gumboot, who definitely started things out in a very energetic, upbeat fashion. Erratic, jazzy keys, slick bass and embellished drumming provided a foundation for pop songs about Hawaiian shirts and cut off jeans – putting many a smile on those faces lucky enough to be there early. If Ben Folds had more spark and imagination, you could start to get an idea of the kind of vibe that Gumboot brought to the evening.
Following on next brought Lisa Salvo and her three-piece band, who brought an atmospheric, soaring and dynamic set to the evening’s line up. With a vocal talent not often seen in the Melbourne scene, Lisa’s versatility and accomplished skill was demonstrated throughout a set of slinky jazz pop tunes, ranging all the way to huge, shoe-gaze inspired build ups that held the attention of the listeners until the last second. Her skillful band melded perfectly with a gorgeously controlled voice whilst all looking as if this performance was just another walk in the park – with an unbeatable soundtrack of course.
Ha the Unclear are not your regular indie pop/rock band. The crowd knew that, and that’s exactly why they were there. Sure, there are songs about love, anxiety and the pains of growing up, but instead from the point of view of anthropomorphic coffee tables, or describing a fear of hyper-realistic shop furnishings. Their songs are distinguished from the usual youth radio fodder – unique lyrics, charming harmonies, uncomplicated but proficient instrumentation and songwriter/singer/guitarist Michael Cathro’s undeniably Kiwi accent. Here tonight to promote the single Secret Lives of Furniture, which was a crowd favourite, they played a number of songs off their debut album along with a few newies which are secured onto a second album due for release later in the year. Other highlights included last year’s single Growing Mould, and the sweet tale of an astronaut of lost in space, Kosmonavt.
The band were humble, polite and happy to be there. No encores necessary, just an invitation to join them afterwards for a beer. Matched with their stellar performance and wonderful support acts, it concluded a great evening of fantastic tunes and a super chill atmosphere.