review by Maddie Vlismas // photos by Sean Kirkwood @seankirkwoodphotography
“It was exactly what the night (and the crowd) needed.”
Late, as per usual, we step into the already packed venue at 170 Russell and a warm rich voice greets us as we walk up the stairs. It sounds familiar, but it can’t be as this is my first time hearing the dulcet tones of Tyne-James Organ. It feels reminiscent of the first time I listened to Gang of Youths and how entirely captivating the human voice can be when expressing feeling and emotion.
Organ dances around the stage during songs- his enthusiasm is contagious and the entire crowd is there with him. He starts up his last song, Graceful, and thanks us all for our support. Perhaps it’s cliche, but the words ‘real’ and ‘honest’ come to mind when he speaks; his humility and gratefulness have us all feeling something special as he steps off stage to roaring applause.
Middle Kids Jump right into the night with the cruisy, slow burner Never Start. The crowd are bopping along to the familiar track and singing every lyric back at lead singer Hannah. “I’m not trying to start a fight here, but it’s building up inside and you don’t even know,” she cries as the song picks up pace.
Taking a moment to talk to the crowd before they get too settled into their set, Hannah thanks the crowd for coming to support them. “You could be sat at home watching literally any movie you ever wanted right now, so we’re going to make this worth your while”. Don’t get me wrong- I’m real big into live music- it’s kind of my job. However if I wasn’t elbow deep in fellow Melbournians for Middle Kids’ mosh- I would definitely be cuddled on my couch, so she’s got me there.
With that promise, they kick up On My Knees with a newfound energy, bouncing around the stage like a pinball machine. As usual, bass player Tim Fitz is the most energetic of them all, totally in his own world and never missing a note despite his wild moves. The flickering lights echo the energy of the band onstage and I’ve never been more relieved to not have epilepsy.
A backdrop of starry lights flickers into existence giving the illusion of a deep purple night sky as Hannah’s rich voice introduces us to Your Love. The stage lights make her black jumpsuit glitter and sparkle and our home-grown Aussie band turns into fully-fledged rockstars.
A grungy, mid tempo guitar line and a synth hook bring us into Salt Eyes, a relatively new track that feels like a confession on a relatable issue- wanting a more meaningful life but not being able to achieve it all. “All this time we believed we were living… we were so tired,” scream the audience in a moment of shared catharsis.
Her hands move like their own entities, when not clutching a guitar, swirling around her face and high into the air above her head. Eyes closed and face pinched with emotion, she chants over and over with the crowd and the song builds in intensity. Her distinctive wail is muffled by the audience’s enthusiasm.
People watching is something that I truly cherish at gigs (and literally any other setting). To my left there’s a couple whose heads are banging in synchronicity through every song and now, their arms are wrapped around each other as Hannah softly croons about “the fire in your eyes,”.
Ending on Mistake, was in my opinion- the very opposite of a mistake. It was exactly what the night (and the crowd) needed. Hips are swaying to and fro and heads are shaking. Everyone is totally free and it’s the perfect way to end the week- thank you public holidays. The room is breathless when they sing their last note and the crowd erupts into cheers.