This month triple j Unearthed celebrates all the joy and goodness in Australian music. And boy did they celebrate Australian music on Tuesday night. Competition winners got the chance to rock up in their best oh-so-indie outfit and support three very talented, Unearthed artists: Asta, Yes You, and The Rubens.
The night was hosted by triple j’s own Tom and Alex! It was like listening to the breakfast show but at night, and live. Asta kicked off the night with her first Sydney show, and definitely made an entrance with her gold high-waisted pants, drawing everyone’s attention towards the stage. Her outfit was one of the many highlights of the night, so much so that it obtained its own separate applause after the set was done. She was accompanied by deck master, Kel, who donned a cheesy mo and retro sunnies. The two looked like something out of an 80’s film, but no one was complaining.
Their pulsating beats and stage presence got everyone moving their feet. They opened with their Unearthed track, My Heart Is on Fire. With the help of some lighting effects, they created a trance of great electronic-influenced sounds. Following their opening number was a song called Mama Bear, a sultry indie-pop vibe with the addition of an acoustic guitar and Asta’s unique vocals, elements that fitted perfectly together. Another highlight of the night was made by Kel (the cheesy, yet slick dancer/deck master) dropping the egg shaker at the end of All Starts with You (a song dedicated to the fans) whilst making a face that made everyone in the front row gasp and ask themselves, “What’s he going to do now?!”.
All was good in the land of Kel, however, as he very gracefully soldiered on past the awkwardness. A couple of songs later…Kel stepped out from behind the decks and it was evident that something was about to go down. A beat started and the intrigued audience was entertained by a choreographed duo dance number (another highlight) that was reminiscent of Flashdance, courtesy of Asta and Kel. Asta’s great performance and friendly persona and Kel’s dorky cool dancing left the audience with just the right vibe for the next band.
Out went the turntables and in came synth pads, more synths pads, and a 4-piece band from Queensland. Yes You was next to hit the Unearthed stage. They opened with, Half of It, a song that was evidently familiar to the crowd. As they were getting ready for the next song, it was revealed that this group of musicians are all multi-talented. Jono (who was playing guitar) switched to a bass, the synth player took the lead vocals, and the bass player took up the electric and synth. It was like watching a musical circuit-course moving along.
I wasn’t familiar with Yes You before that night, but I may have found my new favourite act. Their beats and synth-heavy sound were pretty eargasmic, and for 45 mins (I think), I was completely mezmerised by their performance. They played songs off their EP, including Lights Go Down, Frozen, Amsterdam, and their highly popular single, Frivolous Life, which features Marcus Azon (from Jinja Safari). The real Marcus Azon then stepped out from side stage for this song and layed down the vocals, sending part of the audience into a wild frenzy. Yes You are very talented, yes, interpreting SBTRKT’s Wildfire, and managing to make everyone sing and bob along.
A long wait was endured before we got to hear the anticipated Rubens. Dom Alessio kept the music going with some great DJing. People were chatting along and many of the ladies were gushing about how attractive Sam was. All of a sudden, the front couple of rows were filled with groups of excited, unconfined girls. One particular girl at the centre front was an obvious fan of The Rubens, waving her arms and dancing even before any sign that The Rubens were about to play. This continued right up until the end of the night, and it evidently pissed off a whole bunch of people (especially the photographers, who kept getting her head and arms in their shot).
Alessio’s DJing stopped, the lights dimmed, and anticipation grew as an unexpected hip hop beat blared through the speakers, and The Rubens finally took the stage. Crowd cheering with excitement and congratulations, I suppose, were in order for the guys who were Unearthed J Award Winners of 2012. The boys kicked off their set with the latest single, Best We Got. Sam’s soothing-yet-perfectly-imperfect vocals melted all the ladies’ hearts. The music was being enjoyed by everyone in that room, and it was evident that some enjoyed it more than others, closing their eyes and just moving.
If you were standing in the first few rows (like I did), people next to you sang every word, of every lyric, of every song. But the attention never moved from the boys on stage, or should I say, boy. The same girl (from earlier, the one front and centre) screamed out, “He’s so hot!” in the middle of Elvis, whilst staring up at Sam as he sang. And of course it wouldn’t be The Rubens without My Gun. The guys looked at ease on stage: Zac (guitar) and the bass player and Scott (drummer) exchanged looks and smirked during certain moments through their set. It was probably an inside joke between them, triggering an amusing memory perhaps. Know one will know, but it was great to see the band off the stage be transferred onto the stage. At the end of the night, everyone was left wanting more. Even afterward, outside the OAF, people were still buzzed.
The Rubens setlist:
– Best We Got
– Be Gone
– My Gun
– I’ll Surely Die
– Look Good
– Never Be The Same
– Lay It Down
– Dont Ever Wanna