On Sunday night the Bar On The Hill at Newcastle University played host to a showcase of artists from Courtney Barnett’s independent record label “Milk! Records”. The Finks, East Brunswick All Girls Choir, Ouch My Face, Jen Cloher, Fraser A Gorman, and Courtney Barnett all took to the stage at some point, for a night of diverse acts and attitudes.
The sun was still shining bright when The Finks kicked off their set. They created a beautiful mellow vibe with the combination of singer Oliver Mestitz glassy clean toned Rickenbacker guitar Sarah Farquharson’s smooth cello. The Atmosphere created was reminiscent of a nice backyard picnic.
East Brunswick All Girls Choir were powerful. From singer Marcus Hobbs unique wailing voice to the way many songs seemed to build into a monstrous piece of music. Fraser A Gorman also joined the band to play harmonica on a couple of songs. Later into the set joining drummer Jen Sholakis on drums was Courtney’s drummer Dave Mudie.
Heavy distortion, high volume and a number of voice modulation effects made art-punk group Ouch My Face’s set a strong change from the previous bands music.
The night sky was now fully set in and the crowd was large when Jen Cloher took the stage. Jen was joined stage by Barnett who played rhythm guitar. Two Fender Telecasters Into Fender amplifiers definitely gave off that classic country folk rock sound that the set began with. The songs were solid, the performance was great and everybody was having fun.
Fraser A Gorman was next also accompanied by Barnett and he entertained the crowd with his soft blues and misty pop songs. Keyboardist James Fleming stood out to me as one of the strongest members of the band laying down subtle yet effective keyboard parts.
Finally it was time for Courtney Barnett who seemed to like her position on the side of the stage rather than the middle. Barnett opened with “Dead Fox” which got everybody moving. Mudie laid down seriously strong grooves that were as tight as they possibly could be. Courtney’s set consisted of mostly new songs off of her debut album “Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit”. Fan favourites were definitely “Elevator Operator”, “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party” and “Pedestrian at Best” which was her most energetic and featured the return of Jen Sholakis for double drums and had the whole crowd singing and dancing along. Barnett’s performance lies in her songs, she doesn’t dress anything up or try to be the centre of attention. It was evident that causality was a big part of the performance, as members from other bands would come on and off at different songs in the set. Next in the set was my all time favourite moment of the show Jen Cloher and Marcus Hobbs were welcomed back onto the stage to sing lead vocals on David Bowie’s classic “Suffragette City”. It was a fitting tribute to the music legend.
The night ended with a stage filled with every performer we had already seen and then some, performing a song that felt like a thank you to the crowd. The show finished and a great night was had by all.