Levi’s Music Prize Party
With posters around the venue advising on ‘Tips for a more gender inclusive music industry’, it was fitting to kick off with young Ruby Fields and her understated version of teen angst. A small but enthusiastic crowd – including fellow artist Alex the Astronaut – enjoyed triple j inclusions ‘P Plates’ and ‘I Want’ which were confidently delivered. We laughed along with Ruby at her admitted irony of singing a song about covers followed by an excellent cover of Garbage’s ‘Cherry Lips’.
As the sun set on the outside stage at the Brightside, Winston Surfshirt were keen to get performing and help us into the relaxo zone. Namesake frontman Winston is a t-shirt twisting, eclectic dancing, compelling viewing performer. He is confident and comfortable on stage and was happy to bring his mojo to the people jumping off stage at one point to groove on the apron of open space in front of the crowd. With a smooth trombone highlight, these are mellow tunes with swagger to Sunday to.
A Missy Higgins-esque sound, confident and articulate musicality and a presence to be envied in someone of her tender years, Tasmanian export Maddy Jane owned the stage from the minute she walked on. Her songs have recurrent themes of breakups and bad relationships (‘Thank you and Sorry’), her lyrics are honest and relatable – ‘I’m not the one for you and you are not the one for me’ and her assessment of one tune being an ‘angry, sad, breakup song’ was refreshing. Her breakthrough tune ‘Drown It Out’ was upbeat and fun and had the crowd captivated.
No-one was quite sure how this established 2-piece made it onto an ‘up and comers’ program but no-one was complaining either. The BFFs from Windang rocked it out with Billy’s trademark blond hair flying and introduced a new song to the larger crowd which quickly closed that gap on that dancefloor at the front of the crowd.
One of the finds of the night, Angie McMahon has a voice that wraps around your ears like warm liquid spreading through the room. Beguiling and at odds with her almost shy between-song banter, Angie took us on a journey through life, heartache and love via a poignant stop at the ‘Pasta Song’. Her voice has a beautiful resonance, a fantastic range and the Josh Pyke APRA Partnership winner has cornered the market on emoting. A cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Silver Springs’ available on SoundCloud is well worth a listen.
I love a good bit of bass as much as the next person but Mansionair took it next level to the point my eyeballs were vibrating as I wrote my notes. Vibrating eyeballs notwithstanding, it couldn’t detract from the gorgeous, swoon-inducing pipes of Jack Froggatt. In only a few short years the Sydney trio has gone from strength to strength both in support and headlining roles and it is not difficult to see why. Self-assured, mature lyrics and simply beautiful music.
Walking into the packed bar with a beaming Yolgnu man rapping the power of his blackness in front of the Indigenous flag there was no doubt we had found man of the moment and triple j Unearthed NIMA Award winner, Baker Boy. In a seemingly unstoppable career flow that parallels his hip hop messages in language, this 20-year old continues to hold crowds in his palm wherever he goes. He belted out his incredibly popular ‘Cloud 9’ and previewed a new song which started with the lyrics ‘I’m a proud, black, Gela man’ and included some red-hot didge action for good measure. Baker Boy was kicking it, clearly stoked to be there and cannot make music fast enough to us happy.
Jesswar or JessRAAAAAR? This fierce young Gold Coast woman does not hold back for a millisecond in her searing, spitfire-rapped lyrics of female empowerment and F*YOU to the patriarchy. With content definitely NSFW, she asked in ‘Savage’ that the ‘bad bitches please move to the front’ and did they what! Her crowd was dedicated and utterly in support of her message and delivery. Jesswar has the musical chops and sassitude to pull off her mandate not to mention a banging DJ bringing the beats.
This was a surprise packet of the most pleasant variety. A true musician with experience across a variety of fields and a stellar roll call of performers, Caiti Baker packed The Empire with a crowd eager to listen to her swinging, jazzy, soul filled sounds. The double bass playing with Caiti added a welcome depth to the sound and eye candy to the stage. Caiti has a powerhouse voice and put every bit of her energy into her performance. She finished with a cover of Tom Waits’ ‘Way Down in the Hol’e (used for the theme of TV show The Wire) which was superb – the crowd lapped it up and begged her to play on. This artist is one to seek out for a night of quality entertainment.
GALLERY (c) Nadia Achilles