AU ABROAD

Live Review: Jaron Freeman-Fox and The Opposite of Everything - Camelot Lounge, Sydney (15.01.15)

It's all too rare to see an artist genuinely doing something that seems to run against what is "popular", or deemed "sellable" for either commercial or "indie cred" success. Underneath the demeanour of any artist is the drive for success, and though one would assume Canada's Jaron Freeman-Fox is no different, when it comes to his music, one this is for sure: he's trying to offer something different. But he probably tells that story best through the name of his four piece backing band, The Opposite of Everything.

Though this was Jaron's first ever Sydney show, he's no stranger to our shores, having toured here as Ben Caplan's fiddle/violin player last year. With Jaron on the strings, his accompanying group encompassed a guitarist, a double bassist, a drummer and a multi-tasker who jumped between the clarinet and the harmonica. Their music is impossible to fit into a box - it's not just the opposite of everything, but it's everything at the same time, jumping between genres and experiences from across the vast array of musical influences. Let's take a look at how this came together during the set...

Their opening track built nicely, with chanting-like vocals and instrumentals which soared, showcasing particularly excellent interplay between the woodwind and Jaron's fiddle - a dynamic which was common throughout the set. Jaron described the track as "Palandromic... inspired by the lifespan of a drop of water." Though he digressed this was "particularly precarious music from across the pond", this would also be the only time things would get that precarious.

Song two jumped right in the opposite direction with a hillbilly tune; a track about falling in love with "exactly the wrong person". There was huge energy and it was a bit of a hoe-down, with plenty of harmonica added in for good measure. A set highlight for sure. "Auctioneering Everything" followed, proving that we would never know what to expect from this Canadian troubadour. The track was inspired by his time living in South East India, as he told us during an some introductory dialogue (which he was prone to do), as the clarinetist hummed his instrument in the background. The atmospheric track, inspired by the music of the region, featured Jaron at his finest on the strings and the jam it inspired could have sit comfortably amongst one of Dave Matthews Band's lengthier live endeavours.

Whether it was instrumental or featured vocals, whether inspired by the music of India or the American heartland, or if it was played solo or with the band, the eclectic mix of music was as enticing as it was enjoyable. Jaron's demeanour and banter helped tie it together nicely - indeed, he's an enigmatic frontman who isn't afraid to let the compositions speak for themselves.

A highlight of the set was during Jaron's solo number, a "song about how I came to be here". It was a beautiful track, with the emotive line "I hope my pony knows the way home" something that stuck with me long after the set was over.

Another highlight came in the second half of the set (tonight it was divided into two 45 minutes performances, separated by an interval), in a track that was inspired by the man who gave him his fiddle, a man who told him stories about his life and created a track that was ultimately "about my own mortality". "When I'm gone, you'll be the one to tell the story". It was a beautiful song, with a powerful ending.

A traditional Swedish fiddle tune followed - just to keep us on our toes - and then a beautiful instrumental composition was found in "Stray Camino". We returned to the hillbilly blues with an excellent track about getting away with murder (featuring an excellent guitar solo) and then the night ended with a gypsy jam.

There was something for everyone in this gig, featuring music indeed best described as the opposite of everything you'd expect - and everything else in between. And though the disparity between genres and atmosphere may have been an Achilles heel for some, Jaron thrives on it, masterfully creating cohesion through the journey. Naturally, some tracks work better than others - and I feel his most energetic tracks are the ones that work best live - but ultimately, a night out with Jaron and his band is a journey very much worth taking.

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Jaron's tour continues through February:

23 January - Candelo Town Hall, Candelo NSW
25 January - Pizza and Wine Club, Kyneton NSW (FREE)
26 January - Globe to Globe World Music Festival, Moorabbin VIC
28 January - Ararat Hotel Red Room, Ararat VIC
29 January - Open Studio, Northcote VIC
30 January - Flying Saucer Club, Elsternwick VIC
31 January - Hotel Gearin, Katoomba NSW
1 February - Terara Studio, Nowra NSW

For more details and tickets head to http://theoppositeofeverything.com or https://www.facebook.com/jaronfreemanfox