words & photos: Maddie Vlismas @maddievlis
“…ticking all the boxes. The pair are backlit by bright neon lights and all around me are grinning faces swaying to and fro.”
It’s a Friday night at The Corner Hotel and despite the early hour, the band room is filling up fast. Up and comer Laura Hyde is onstage and her hypnotising vocals have captured the audience entirely. Soaring melodies and out of control high notes show off her vocal chops. She jokes with the audience, giggling and acting shy all of a sudden. I realise she’s spotted a big group of her friends in the audience who are cheering her on and it makes her that much more relatable and down to earth despite her superstar performance.
After performing a small but impressive range of originals, she covers Lorde’s ‘Liability’ and the popped-up version is upbeat and fun. Pacing around the stage with great energy, she looks like a flightless bird with the fringing on her sleeves sparkling in the stage lights.
Tuka launches onstage with more energy than I’ve ever had in my entire life. Equal parts performer, singer and rapper, he tells his stories with his entire face and body. Introducing himself as “tukka” not “tooka”and apologises for the confusion. “this is what happens when you pick your rap name in high school,” he tells us.
Better known as one-third of hip hop group Thundamentals, but with a huge following of his own and three studio albums to his name. Die hard fans in the front row are spitting his lines to him with pace and enthusiasm. It’s his first Melbourne solo gig in something like five years, but he doesn’t miss a beat.
He alternates between performing with show stopping intensity and then pulls up a seat on the speakers, chatting to us as if we’re old friends. Crowd pleasers like My Star, Die a Happy Man and Right By You have the audience waving their hands around with enthusiasm at Tuka’s instruction. He says jump and we say how high.
It’s just past 11pm and we’re hard pressed for space now. Anticipation is building for the main act but the crowd are relaxed and having a great time. “We played our first ever gig here, years and years ago,” he says to overwhelming cheers from the audience. “I can’t believe we get to do this together every night,” says frontman Ben. The pair that is Boo Seeka riff off each other like brothers, communicating across the stage without saying a word to the other.
Before tonight I thought of their music as boppy, mellow listening jams, but live - they’re a whole lot more. The bass is reverberating through my skull and he dances with moves of such joy and elation. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Tracks like Turn Up Your Light are slightly more relaxed, but before long they’ve turned the intensity right back up. Other classics like Humans, Oh My, Deception Bay and Does This Last are ticking all the boxes. The pair are backlit by bright neon lights and all around me are grinning faces swaying to and fro.
“So grab a hold, grab a hold, grab a hold,” choruses the whole room in harmony for Kingdom Leader. It’s almost impossible to not sing along to this one and there’s a feeling of unity as mates hang off each others shoulders grooving to the melody.
Michael let’s us know that Ben is currently “sick as a dog,” but I don’t know if I’ve ever necked a bottle of red wine and danced around on a hot, sweaty stage, belting my lungs out when I’m flu bound… I’m not sure whether to be impressed or concerned for his wellbeing after tonight’s marathon effort. Phones twinkle in the air for Turn Up Your Light and the room sways together like an accidental flashmob choir. Boo Seeka grin at each other onstage, catching the special moment that we’re all feeling.
My head is throbbing from the bass as we walk home in the brisk night air, but I feel as light as a feather.