Phoenix's O-Week Session: A Review

Phoenix Bootleg Sessions; a reason go out on a Monday, a reason to embrace your inner Edwardian-grunge hipster, and among other things, a reason to remind yourself that in our little capital city of politicians and uni students, there is a rough and charmingly unpolished music scene, charged with excitement and youth. No better way is there to kick of an O week in alternative, feel good style.

To kick things off, the one and only Sara Flint, who with her haunting and sultry delivery, is someone who you should pay attention to, to truly appreciate. That is not to say she’s forgettable, but rather she plays the role of a classic lounge singer extremely well; whilst she may frame an evening for your average unobservant after-work-drinks-go-getter, to those who sit in the back corner, she is made more interesting in her own flaws, as she subtly explores her strong lower register, but always returns to her cloudy head voice, as it floats above the bar and swirls amongst the conversations and whiffs of spirits that is Phoenix’s air.

As a counterpointing palate cleanser, Helena Pop were next, and filled the room with their own very individual vibes of folky momentums and slight grunge influences – of biblical proportions. Their enigmatic performance was a clear highlight of the night, as you couldn’t help but smile when their lead singer, Jack Houston, dressed in full angel garb, sang “I love being naked with you.” After having a little chat with Houston after their set, he said that he felt “really lucky” to be a part of the Phoenix family, as “it’s always a really eclectic group of people who turn up,” and as the Canberra music scene itself faces challenges with dwindling numbers of live music venues, nights like Phoenix’s Bootleg Sessions become all the more important, as Jack himself says; “I’m really bad at self-promotion – I’d normally offer a lift to get people to gigs.”

The fun atmosphere continued to flourish, as Novia Scotia took to the stage, with their impressions of classic rock fused with altie tunes. Whilst they also were clearly influenced by a bit of 90s grunge, they invoked some great images through their fantastic guitar technique, and great hair action from stage left. Whilst their lead singer often sounded like Tim Burton if he was a soul singer, their Suspicion Blues transported the humble audience that night straight to the hot and humid streets of New Orleans and back.

Yet, to end the night, we met with the members of the ever-cool Slow Turismo. Whilst their light echoing voices reminded the audience of a revolutionised 60s psychedelic movement, you couldn’t avoid the contrast of their haunting 80s-esque anthems – seasoned with a little ska annotation and a deeper sense of brooding hidden behind the lead singers on-stage persona. Nonetheless, obviously there is not much more that a reviewer can say, than the band got people to dance in 7/8 time; a hands-down triumph, needing no more frivolous complimenting, to be fully appreciated.