This past month has been suspiciously sunny, indicating that ominous weather is no doubt upon us. And true to Sydney’s menopausal weather systems, much of last week was marred by dreary cold and rain. Turns out winter really is coming and not just in Westeros. Having spent most of the day struggling with a particularly nasty assignment interspersed with productive power naps and too many cups of green tea, I was in no mood to leave my bed and trek all the way to the city for Owl Eyes’ gig at Oxford Art Factory. In hindsight, I’m really glad that I managed to pull my lazy ass out of my snuggie, ’cause dancing away the winter blues was just what I needed to snap me out of my climate-driven comatose.
Known for being a little too punctual, I arrived well before first support Pear Shape to secure a coveted Oxford Arts Factory seat. Alas, I wasn’t the only one with this mentality as every butt-worthy spot was spoken for. Forced to 80’s lean against a pillar, by the time Sydney based Pear Shape got going I was well and truly comfortable. Living up to their namesake, the band left a tray of succulent pears on the stage for the audience to enjoy, a nice touch to their charming set. Lubricating the crowd with their indie pop jams and cheery energy, Pear Shape delighted with a slew of poppy beats, including title single, The Coca Cola Kid from their forthcoming EP. By the time they played final track Cabin Fever their trademark sound became evident – playful guitar riffs and bouncing percussions sprinkled with light-hearted lyrics and a satisfactory amount of “ooh’s” and “wah’s”. If anything, these cool cats proved that bananas are not the only fruit that can make those bodies sing.
Second support for the evening was Brissy lads, The Art of Sleeping. Having been enthralled by their 2010 EP, Colourblind, I was really keen to see how they transitioned their huge sounds live. And I have to say they blew all my expectations out of the water. For their first Sydney show, their set was nothing short of spectacular. Satisfying with seven songs, including familiar favourites, Colourblind and Breath, as well as new wonders The Water and (my personal highlight) Empty Hands, these guys really understood the art of balancing bluesy lows and powerful highs. Their signature crescendos were impeccable, not to mention lead vocalist Caleb Hodger’s haunting harmonies. The Art of Sleeping is one of those bands that you know is destined for greatness.
With the bar set high, Owl Eyes had quite a task in front of her. Joining the ranks of idol rejects turned indie sweethearts, she delivered in a gold dress and choice selection of her darling pop anthems. Kicking off with Wait, her honeyed harmonies and contagious dance moves had everyone getting foot loose. The crowd went nuts for her notorious Pumped Up Kids cover. To be honest, I’ve always thought it was a little bit overrated and somewhat undeserving of the hottest 100; however, her live rendition was injected with sprightly xylophone fun, and, I’m not gonna lie…I was sold.
The crux of her set was nearly marred by a medical emergency when her drummer fell victim to an asthma attack, and she had to scour the audience for a puffer. Puffer obtained, to keep the crowd occupied whilst her drummer regained life, her set quickly transformed into a charming stand-up routine with her self-proclaimed “shit talking”. Crisis averted, she jumped straight back into the swing of things with electro number, Break In and a slick mash-up of covers, Dirty Harry and Trick Me. Finishing with a bang, Owl Eyes quenched with triple threat, Raiders, Hurricane, and latest wonder Crystalised that had everyone cuttin a rug. Whilst she was undoubtedly awesome, that night I literally couldn’t master the art of sleeping, thinking about The Art of Sleeping. Pun intended.