Here we go. Another Friday night at Newtown Social Club. A good gig here is always the starter to a dusty night ahead. At least we’ve got the weekend to recover. On the menu is the Tiny Little Houses who have recently been rewarded through their hard work with a signing from Ivy League Records. In support we’ve got Sydney outfit Noire and also the talented songstress Tali Mahoney.
Due to the small beginnings of the crowd at the start of the night, it felt somewhat reminiscent of a school assembly where the kids were noisily finding their friends and alcohol before sitting down to attention (maybe not the alcohol part). However, when solo act Tali skipped onto stage her quirky confidence and laid back demeanour let the room’s hair down. I thought that was quite an achievement for an eighteen year old, although I did just mention school assemblies. Nevertheless, she’d proceed to deliver an assortment of sympathetic and sometimes satirical stories on her short but curious life thus far. A boisterous partnership of Tali’s skillful fingering of her fender and insightful lyrics into the life of a young woman was heart-warming to observe which the small but intent group of early birds appreciated. A notable song was “Wasted” which took advantage of the better of her two talents on show, her spirited vocals, and backed it up with some poppy notes on guitar. Sticking to her guns, she also managed to fit in some comic relief among her banter with the audience which was symbolic of her performance. This included a hilariously cute shout out to the Veronica Mars show as inspiration for one song which I’m sure the show’s fans would have appreciated. All in all, with only a small crowd to work with, Mahoney delivered a satisfying start to the night and would be rewarded with a cameo in the finale.
The next cab off the rank was Noire, who’ve been busy of late with a string of performances across the state promoting their Baby Blue EP. Under the solemn shadows of deep blue and blood red lighting, their mix of soft rock rhythms and pop synth were enchanting for the growing crowd. They were led by the tender crooning of vocalist Jessica Mincher (similar to Warpaint singer Emily Kokal) who embraced the microphone like a former lover. Songs like “Baby Blue” were one of several to wander down the ocean drive of relationships. Thus, the atmosphere gained an extra layer as couples in the crowd clutched each other’s hips a little tighter with each gush of lyric. For others not so fortunate (or unfortunate) of that perk, myself included, we were left admiring the sophisticated expression of emotion through Noire’s cohesion of vocals and instrumentals. It was also an opportunity to sneak in a quick trip to the bar and bathroom which the former was close enough to still enjoy the music. Their young talent added another feather to the cap by seamlessly covering Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Games’. The Twin Peaks fans were sold. However, the standout was trippy dream track ‘Those Days’ which got personal by juxtaposing bluesy rhythms and keyboard sections, accordingly evocative of a Zelda soundtrack, to illustrate the conflict of rationality and its counterpart when dealing with feelings.
NSC was almost at crowd capacity when headliners and recent Ivy League Records addition Tiny Little Houses claimed the stage to kick of the Sydney leg of their “Milo Tin” campaign. The set reached heights that were yonks ahead of the curve for such young musicians. The opener reintroduced Mahoney to the stage and the ensuing collaboration displayed a smorgasbord of lo-fi rock. Front man Caleb Karvountzis’ melodramatic lyric’s cooperated well with the sophisticated structure of the pop rock song’s which were accompanied with heavy doses of drum beats and bass. Good examples of these were tracks “Soon we won’t exist” which reminded us of “existential emergencies” and is similar sounding to American indie rock band Neutral Milk Hotel as well as “Every man knows his plague” which combined a Boy and Bear style of vocals including clapping drum beats and guitar riffs.
So far TLH had ticked the boxes of a decent set. However, Karvountzis felt compelled to quieten the mood with an acoustic solo. Initially the move was a bit from left field and it’d be fair to state unnecessary. Nevertheless, it was emotional and resonated deeply with the crowd, igniting memories of fallen relationships; even the drummer was miming along. Ultimately the risk had payed off because the band got to connect emotionally with the audience; isn’t that the driving force of an artist? An extra box had been ticked. Even so, Caleb ramped up his toying of the audience’s emotions as the follow up title track “Milo Tin’ brimming with heckling vocals and whip-lashing guitar hooks transformed the detached jigging into full blown body convulsions. TLH’s inter-band banter brought some drunken chuckles even if it was at the undeserved expense of “the always positive” drummer Clancy. The night came full circle when the opening act, Tali, meandered back on stage and joined the band in chorus for the final song. Despite a couple of false starts neither TLH nor the audience were swayed in their enthusiasm as the show finished off with arms wiping sweating foreheads.
It was the gig of exceeding expectations. Each artists delivered something unique but not necessarily equal which is merely evidence of lack of experience rather than talent which was in abundance tonight.