By Zoe Sounness
The most recent show I attended was March of this year, Voiid at the Marly Bar in Newtown. Anji, rolled her eyes back into her head as she chanted out each syllable, showing her tonsils to those in the front row. Antonia had a serious, solemn expression in the way that most bass players do, her fingertips plucking each string with ease. Kate’s holographic star stickers that were splattered all over the body of her black Jazzmaster caught the flashing stage lights as she swung it across the stage. As Jas’ drumming synced up with my own adrenalised heartbeat, members of the crowd were belting each other in the mosh, feet stomping in time with the bass drum. I left the venue completely drenched in sweat, spit and Toohey’s New.
Now picture this. It’s been an eight month drought of no shows, let alone getting sweaty in a mosh with your friends. A guy at the infamous Oxford Art Factory shows you to your seat. For myself and I’m imagining for many others, a seated show unheard of for Sydney’s underground music community. A candle in a little glass jar adjacent to a laminated QR code, for bar service of course, rests on a side table next to each pair of chairs. On Friday night, I was lucky enough to see Babe Rainbow spread peace and love (without spreading Coronavirus).
The first set to break the lengthy drought of gig-less weekends was that of Sam Windley, from the very same Central Coast as myself. Sam’s vocals are extremely reminiscent of those belonging to Stella Donnelly and Julia Jacklin. Her soft-toned voice was gorgeously led by an acoustic guitar and an egg shaker taped to her right foot. A short, yet sweet set was intertwined with pieces of a conversation between herself and the audience.
“I wrote most of my songs in a really weird tuning. So when I play at shows, I can either tune really quickly and sit in silence, or I can take forever to tune and have a kind of blabber going… I always go with the endless tuning and endless blabber.” Sam has recently released her newest single, Neighbours in the Morning and you can listen to it here [ https://open.spotify.com/track/3yFbaJHXoHSxrTEHOpjSV8?si=SqJitlIDRBW5gG3efnxjzw ].
After much anticipation, Angus, Miles, Elliot and Jack silently strode onstage and picked up their instruments with no real sense of urgency, just as if they were beginning a practice run of their set. One by one, they each started jamming along with each other whilst the crowd was eager to hear which song they would perform first. With a bottle of VB in my hand, I watched the hippies start to dance.
Unsurprisingly, they opened with a fan favourite, 'Supermoon' from their 2018 album Double Rainbow. Angus sang a slightly altered rendition of the song, repeating lines and skipping some out completely which made it an extremely engaging song to open the night with. After playing a few more of their most popular songs, the Byron Bay hippies leant into a cover that shocked the whole crowd. Angus grasped the microphone and spoke softly the opening lyrics to 'Pure Imagination' from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Somehow, this out of the blue choice to cover the song famously sang by Gene Wilder was very fitting to the mystical and magical vibe of the evening.
The band then performed their newest single, 'Zeitgeist', which was amazing to hear live. I caught up with the band after their show for a couple of quick questions that I was dying to ask.
What was the writing process like for Zeitgeist?
Elliot: “It was a slow process, but came together quickly. We were in Topanga Canyon in California when it first germinated and grew into a little seedling over there and then we had to go back home. But we went to Music Farm and finished it off and now it’s a crazy little thing!”
And you guys have your first ever 7” coming out through Flightless Records pretty soon?
Jack: “Oh yeah yeah yeah! Our first ever. It’s really cool, the B side is really good as well.”
Tell me about the setlist choices for tonight’s show
Angus: “It was kind of a pyramid scheme… Well we were at the place over the road and I got Elliot this darker, passionfruity sort of ale that he hadn’t had before and nearly vomited. Then we ripped off part of the docket and kind of tried to do what we did last time but made mistakes and tried to make it smoother. Did it feel flowy to you?”
It felt super flowy and good! What do you guys reckon of playing shows under COVID restrictions?
Angus: “Can I be totally honest? I LOVED it! So good, way more chill.”
[Jack then interrupted Angus and spoke up with a question for Elliot, as Elliot mentioned that he preferred normal shows]
Jack: This is going ON the record, Elliot, why do you like the normal shows better when these ones are so chill?
Elliot: There are way less still eyes, like a bit of a still-life painting and it freaks me out. But I like it for what it is.
How do you guys feel about playing a smaller venue this time around?
Miles: Smaller venues always sound better I love it.
Angus: Yes definitely they do sound better.
Jack: I reckon we prefer smaller venues, that’s what is kinda good right now, it forces us to play smaller places.
Angus: We come together more.
Elliot: We just like playing anywhere honestly.
This was definitely one of the most chilled out interviews I’ve ever done, it was an absolute pleasure to return to live music by seeing Babe Rainbow again. Thank you heaps again to the guys from Babe Rainbow for giving me their time and to Sam Windley for a beautiful opening set. You can stream Babe Rainbow’s newest single, Zeitgeist, here [ https://open.spotify.com/track/27is6BcJpIn5ytARWaUY7Y?si=q0pkWyggTPaYp15TV-PZzQ ]
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