Stanwell Park starlet Bec Sandridge, normally of rootsy folk-rockers Mad Polly, was trying out her solo thing for the first time ever this evening. Although her nerves were evident, the reality of the situation was that the nineteen-year-old had nothing to worry about.
Her sweet-natured, gentle and warm acoustic folk was received with genuine interest and subsequent rapport at the conclusion of each song. Mixing brand-new originals with renditions of tracks like Lisa Mitchell's “See You When You Get There” and Emiliana Torrini's “Sunnyroad,” her meek and childlike voice may have taken its time to settle into the mix of things, but the end result was heartening and highly rewarding. Nice work, kiddo.
Brooke Adamo – better known as Owl Eyes – is around the same age as Sandridge, yet is no stranger to being the centre of attention. 2010 saw her release her debut EP and score some rotation on alternative radio due to songs like the joyous “1 + 1” and the sinister shuffle of title track “Faces”.
Although her surrounding instrumentation was just keyboards and electric guitar, these stripped back renditions of songs old, new and used (a Phoenix cover, “Long Distance Call,” was one of the highlights of the set) brought out the texture and crystallised clarity of Adamo's vocals. Equal parts sugar and spice, Adamo is a confident performer but also displays grace and humility with every round of applause received for her songs. A class act, Owl Eyes made plenty of friends on their first – and hopefully not last – trip to Wollongong.
Back in the surrounds of the Otis Bar for the first time since October, Slow Waves (formerly Paper Moon) are a difficult band to keep up with in terms of their productivity. In spite of having just recorded a new EP, given out for free to the audience, they shun half the tracks in favour of brand new material. Not that we're in any position to complain about it when the songs are consistently this good, mind you. Amongst the new material, the best is a howlin' blues stomp accented by the flailing snare of Nik Russo and the repeated, oft-screamed refrain of “Keep pushin' that stone up a hill.” If they didn't have the attention of the now-packed Otis before, they certainly had it now.
It seems the further inroads the band makes into this devilish take on the early blues movements, the more rambunctious and off-kilter the band's shows become. As frontman Ryan Nicolussi croons and moans atop his jagged guitar noise, Anastasi Kotoros hunches over his bass and pounds the thing into submission while Russo amazingly manages to keep his Mad Men-esque suit-and-tie cool as he sends his sticks in a flurry across his kit. The band are the kind that make their influences clear – Nicolussi segues into “John The Revelator” following the breakdown in set closer “Love is Born” - but the greatest thing about Slow Waves is what they do with them. It's not a copy and paste affair by any stretch; rather, they take the sounds in new directions, progressing and developing into something brand new entirely.
Though their set was somewhat short, Slow Waves kicked off what will hopefully be another standout year for live music in the city.