Looks can be deceiving. To get to Hugs&Kisses you have to flitter down alleyways, dirt paths and construction sites, but when you walk in you’re immediately taken by the intimate groove that seems to sit in every corner of the joint. Browsing through the press for Cleopold’s Geordie Hewitt you might paint and image of a serious, sombre musician. You’ll be immediately taken aback by his warm smile and clear, constant and genuine laugh. Supported by Alyut (DJ) and Gonzo Jones on his Altitude & Oxygen EP tour, this gig was chock full of pleasant surprises and surpassed expectations wrapped up in Hewitt’s trademark off-kilter pop and R&B stylings.
The crowd for the night took arriving “fashionably late” to a whole new level. Handling the slow start fantastically was our DJ for the night, Alyut. Friends with Hewitt from high-school days, Alyut’s set was laden with soul and R&B that matched the rise in the crowd perfectly and set the scene for local talent Gonzo Jones with his dreamy, electronic shoegaze airs. Jones reeks of Melbourne cool; relaxed and confident and with a sound that fuses so many great Australian tropes into one. From surf-rock sounds to shoegaze and a little dream-pop thrown in for good measure, the Cape Liptrap artist mixed songs from his Misty Dreams EP with improv and new material. He’s definitely one to watch and we’d love to see him play for a bigger crowd as they definitely fell into their groove as the venue started to fill up.
Our highlight of the night was going to be Cleopold though. Taking to the stage as the last of the crowd squeezed their way into the venue, we had a full house to witness the majesty that is Hewitt and co tucking into their funk-infused sound. It’s no surprise Hewitt was snatched up by Nick Murphy’s, Detail Records. Not only are they old friends but Hewitt’s sound flirts with the same influences as Murphy’s Chet Faker project: the Temptations, Otis Redding and Smokey Robinson to name a few. Having supported the likes of Murphy and Miami Horror to sold out crowds, Hewitt owned the stage tonight. His confidence shone through in songs like “Not Coming Down” and “Scarlet”, both crowd favourites judging from the reception. He finally got the crowd dancing, and for a while, Hug&Kisses felt like a disco; we haven’t seen that many dancing couples since our high-school graduation. They kept up their pace excellently but we never felt exhausted. We were worried going in that the set might get a little repetitive and stale given that there’s not a huge amount of variation in the EP, but they managed to vary enough to make it work. They also played off each other and the crowd extremely well which made for a constantly fresh and fun event.
It might still be early days for Hewitt’s career but he’s already exhibiting signs of strong staying power. It’ll be interesting to see how much living in LA effects his sound going forward as it already drips with West-Coast groove but given the crowd reaction he’s bound to stay in the hearts of Australians. We’re excited to watch him grow and can definitely recommend seeing him when he drops in near you.