The night was opened by FBi’s newest wunderkind Tim Fitz, with his eclectic mix of synths, beats and loop machines. The 22-year-old Sydney local jumped genres like skipping stones; he dabbled in jazz piano, loose blues guitar riffs, introspective folk and experimental noise. The half-an-hour set even included a stylish one man cover of Radiohead’s “15 Steps.”
Tim Fitz is a sight to behold. Essentially a futuristic one-man-band, Fitz creates live samples from his guitar, keys, vocals or drums. He then uses a loop machine to play these samples as he continues to add more complex rhythms, melodies or harmonies.
For a young and talented performer, Fitz was very humble and appreciative on stage. “This song often goes wrong, and rarely goes right,” he announced at one stage. However, with the help of some grass-roots support from old friends (some of whom he addressed on stage), he was well received.
The punters were less attentive to the straightforward stage manner of The Rubens. The quartet opened with the slow soulful number “Cowboy Song” complete with whistling chorus and western vocals. The dual guitars, keys and drums to produce a solid rock sound influenced with a hint of the dirty south.
Elliot Margin-Keys on vocals produced a sound mature beyond his years, whose gruffness matched well with chunky guitar riffs and soulful lyrics. The band also looked the part for the FBi night, all in tight jeans and matching shirts buttoned up all the way.
Surprisingly, the next band on stage turned out not to be Jungle Giants as promised, but rather Nantes. As it turned out, two members of Jungle Giants were underage, so were obstinately refused entry into the venue by over-zealous security…. one of the perils of setting up shop in Kings Cross.
Nantes continued the safe-haven that is FBi Social within the quagmire of the Cross on a Saturday night, with their rock sensibilities peppered with use of synths and loops. The deep voice of the lead vocalist/bassist matched well with the spacey sounds used, and even though the thin crowd hung back from filling the floor, the four-piece played a solid set.
FBi Social is a venue where the crowd can be vital to the success of a night. A few attendees can make the difference between a packed, buzzing room and one where a pin could be heard to drop on the expanse of an empty dance floor. Unfortunately for Cameras it seemed the combination of a rainy, cold night and the claustrophobia inside the Kings Cross Hotel was not doing the band any favours.
For the six-member headline act, the crowd was disappointingly sparse. Nevertheless, the strength of the Eleanor Dunlop’s voice and her dark, melodic piano melodies matched the dreary weather and dim room perfectly. Dunlop shares her lead vocals role with Fraser Harvey, who is no less talented in crafting stark, beautiful songs. However, it’s clear he plays second fiddle to the powerful, resonant female vocals of Dunlop.
Whilst it was hard to discern at times what all of the six members were busying themselves doing, it’s clear each added inextricably to the overall soundscape. Slow, seething buildups were broken by discordant choruses and climaxes. Overdriven guitars and unrelentingly repeated piano chords held the handful of spectators transfixed and silent for the whole of the relatively short set. Unintelligible lyrics added to the ethereal nature of the group, who were stoic and showman-like in equal measure.
Cameras were a fitting end to a fantastic evening of music at the Kings Cross Hotel. It’s just a shame there wasn’t a larger crowd to see them – and a shame that you are faced with such a jarring juxtaposition of society when you exit the venue.