The surrounding mood of a school disco greeted each and every giddy attendee as they proudly clutched their Mix CDs, politely swarming at the door. Stepping into the dimly lit room, giant multi-coloured paper letters spelling out M-I-X C-D S-O-C-I-A-L strung across the NSC stage backdrop greeted the early birds. While the cheery DJ clan (Dan Kelly inclusive) warmed the scattered entrants, one question was on everyone’s lips – “What did you put on your Mix CD?”
While the room filled, The Barebones duo mounted the stage and kicked off the night with their take on jaunty, country-tinged harmonies. Enthusiasm is certainly not a quality they are in need of. As the chatter of themed track lists murmured about, Matt Barebones and brotherly sidekick Danna pulled cracking smiles from the eager faces with their fittingly kiddish banter. When the mid set lull arrived, an air-guitar solo Danna with Wayne’s World sound effects was unveiled in all its ridiculous glory. Even Matt couldn’t hold a straight face. This would be a night of smiles.
Next up, Melbourne five piece – Duke Batavia. While a newish outfit, the lads are accomplished performers and it was evident from the first note. With 3RRR Breakfaster Ben Birchall on lead vocals, the gentle strums of a ukulele backed by gentle keys fill the room. There are elements of Jeff Tweedy’s sweet, hushed musings to “Empty Shot” – a clear standout. Birchall’s tender vocals give rise to the wistful lyrics all the while bringing together the by now gathering crowd as the band invoked their name sake’s meandering travels across the early 20th century seas. Their forthcoming release, an ode to a crooning Dutch scoundrel who lends the band their calling both in name and in ethos, will no doubt be equally impressive.
Meanwhile, the muttering inquisitions of “Did you put good stuff on yours?” were stemmed when the gorgeous Georgia Fields took to the stage, shimmering in her blue sequenced dress. Her rasping voice coupled with anxious appreciation for the well filled surrounds drew great appreciation from the faithful playlisters.
Drawing from her eclectic but already solid outputs of the 2007 EP Drama on the High Seas of Emotion, self titled 2010 debut LP and a scattering of tunes from her forthcoming second album, Fields bounced about the stage, purveying the sense of occasion. The sweetness of her presence and at times deeply felt vocals fed off the school disco atmosphere. Ukulele gave way to sullen keys as was Fields in fine voice rolling through a solo “High Horse” and “This is Not a Drill” before finally… Mix CD time! From school disco to school canteen. Diligent, polite and patient patrons lining up with their raffle tickets in hand – where were we again? One after another, we plunged our mits into a cardboard box and pulled out a faithfully tailored compact disc.
Closing out with an all performers on stage, including keen punters from the crowd armed with tambourines through the encore, the sing-along “Heavy Heart” found both Matt Barebones and Ben Birchall near stealing the limelight… but only nearly. Performances aside, this was a night where the social element took centre stage. Georgia Fields’ personal vision to gather people on the premise of sharing their independent love of music will have won her many more fans.
Georgia Fields, music needs more of you.
– Ciarán Wilcox