In the lead up to one of the biggest weeks in Australian music we’ve been working over time catching as many sights as we possibly can before we lose everyone to the BIGSOUND void. In amongst the fervour we were lucky enough to catch Billy Fox at Boney, he’s currently taking his latest single ‘Avalanche’ on a little tour around the country. With the lush jazz stylings of Allysha Joy and the ever quality Man Made Mountain, we were sad that Fox’s soul-licked electronic groove fell short of the bar set by his incredibly talented support, but we were still treated to some great sounds by some talented young artists and we can’t be too disappointed at that.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing the Allysha Joy Trio, know that she’s just as fantastic standing alone. Her sound is impressive, which is not at all surprising given her powerful voice supported by her skill across the piano. We knew we were in for a good time as her head began to gently shake letting her earrings brush out a rhythm for her, building track after track of lush soul goodness. It was such a small gesture that triggered such a powerful feeling of joy, the small things really do make a set.
Man Made Mountain were, well, Man Made Mountain. Their unique twist on hip-hop blends together well-considered production, thick horns and engaging vocal lines and it truly comes to life on stage. The duo consisting of Billy Hoyle and vocalist Cazeaux O.S.L.O. are such a strong part of the Boney family and it showed with how comfortable they were on that stage and with their surroundings. It’s always nice playing for family, and the intimacy of their surroundings definitely played to their favour.
When the time came for the main act we were still looking at a sparse audience though. We have to give a proper shout to Fox for taking to the stage for a largely empty band-room. That really can’t have been easy, and to get on with the job at hand takes a certain amount of professionalism that we’ve seen plenty of artists fall short of over the years.
Things were stacked against him from the start: the acoustics of the room swallowed much of his harmonically rich textures, his guitar failed to cut through the mix until later on in the set, and his setup didn’t quite fit the stage which made for awkward transitions between tracks. We’re lucky that we have the experience of hearing his recorded works before the show or we would have been left wondering for much of the set, which is properly frustrating as the occasions that everything meshed together properly were a great time. ‘Avalanche’ was by far and away the most confident performance but our take away was ‘Breathing Life’ mostly for the re-assurance that it gave us. The power of his vocals through the track, even with the muddied textures, prove that this performance was a situational and not a systemic failure. Fox has the potential to put on a show but for whatever reason he didn’t fully kill it this time around. And that’s okay, he’ll just do it better next time.