Tucked away in Surry Hills sits the candlelit Low 302, easily missed if not for the bustle of people out front on a Thursday night. The at-capacity venue hosted Lakyn, aka Lakyn Heperi who we came to fall in love with on our screens when he appeared on Season One of The Voice.
Opening the intimate room was KESMAR. I am still asking myself how I hadn’t come across this act earlier because he and his keys player, Tim, were outstanding. When I say outstanding, I would be as bold as to say they should have switched the bill and chucked them on as the headliners. As a purported last-minute ring-in as an opener, I was shocked by how well they pulled it together.
KESMAR is a side project of Nathan Hawes, who racks up millions of streams on his folky eponymous Spotify and came third on The Voice Season Four. This project, however, has the ability to create incredibly chilled yet sonically intricate songs that make you feel a little funky. Go check out “Feel It Again”, in which he enlisted the help of LANKS on its creation.
The set was under-rehearsed with Tim checking his phone throughout to keep track, but it was at no noticeable detriment to the music. If anything, the pair had a great connection between each other – and even better, they perform under another project called Lazy Wax which you can catch at Lost Paradise over the new year. These guys get around!
Lakyn took to the small stage with his kit player Gareth and opened with his most recent single “Choir Boy”. His singing was woozy and under-enunciated, and nailed nonchalance. He teased an unreleased track “Superhuman” and gave a Frank Ocean-esque cover of Madonna’s “Like A Prayer”, all while a few girls up the back squeaked with excitement each time he talked.
His talk breaks were almost like a train wreck, but he knew which way he was steering – call it a schtick, if you will. I’ll be honest, Lakyn projects an erratic chaotic energy that feels intense but at the same time laidback; a pure voracious childlike curiosity. As his bio puts it, “a roughish bent to Lakyn’s personality”. One example involved him pointing out the decorative pieces he brought with him around the room, including a fake parrot and a little coconut tree. It was different to the reality TV star we knew from years ago, but not surprisingly. It seems that chapter of his career is one he doesn’t like to reference.
One of my favourites of the night was a song he wrote to work through his grandma’s dementia diagnosis, I believe called “Low Key Child”. It was a bit more raw and painful and will be exciting to hear released. He closed his set with his prominent tune “Sweet Days” while a few audience members got out from their booth and stool seating for a boogie.
For Lakyn, it was the case of not feeling overwhelmed or underwhelmed but just whelmed. I can’t say I’ll dwell on the experience for long, but perhaps for the “Sweet Days” singer, those days were sweeter before.