Sometimes you end up standing next to someone at a gig and they slowly become your musical antithesis.  And so it was, Friday night at the Espy, chatting with a girl who thought the name ‘San Fran Disco’ implied a rocking good-time.  The band came on far more mellow than we’d anticipated and I secretly cursed this chick for throwing me off-guard.  Having a habit of ignoring band names, and had she not been there, one might’ve simply smiled at the bands cleverness and listened on sans judgment – but one can’t help waiting for something, at least slightly, reminiscent of a rockin‘ disco party.

The lead vocalist is this charismatic pianist who sits confidently in front of his keyboard and has the sweetest melody to sing.  This is a ballad they’ve chosen to open with – definitely the farthest thing from my new compatriots mind – and it’s very pretty.  And then something strange happens.

The music takes a moody turn, and the lead guitarist lets some screech of a noise loose from his guitar.  Suddenly the stage is struck with this electric energy, and the boys, each one stationed sturdily at their instruments, let go completely, thrashing around stage in a musical fit.  The sound is loud and raw and unforgettable and doesn’t last too long.  They revisit the song’s ballad beginnings and it finishes like a storm blown in and out of town.  Many of their songs are performed in a similar fashion, but there’s one in particular that stands out, a somewhat pub inspired tune that has the brothers of the group singing/screaming loudly in course and stealing the show.

Owl Eyes is last to take stage and her presence is soft and welcoming.  It’s no secret how angelic she looks, and her voice shares a similar quality.  But from behind her soft vocals comes a reflective darkness.  You’d definitely miss the shades of grey and brown in her performance if you were having a beer and chatting noisily in the background.  An audience member tells me she kind of sounds like Jewel, which is true if we’re drawing comparisons – but there’s also something more to Brooke Addamo.

For starters, she uses her time on stage as an opportunity to paint a picture.  Her lyrics maybe softly sung but their content is realised through both her whimsical vocal expression and movement on stage.  Addamo dances freely about, concurring with her fellow musicians -the quintet plays quite concentrated music, finely tuned like a pop ensemble should be. Making you wish they’d taken more liberties.  Addamo especially.

Naturally, the Melburnian humors us with her radio hit ‘1 + 1’ and her most recent Triple J ‘Like a Version’ cover of Foster the People’s ‘Pumped Up Kicks’.  She does a good job too, though again  you wish she’d embraced a darker take on the track, as eerie as the lyrics already are.  Still, there is a strong hint of sweetness to her performance – and you can only hope the 20-year-old continues to take her chances a bit further down the rabbit hole.

–        Cayce Hill