When I got to Oxford Art Factory, I caught the tail end of The Palms set and I got really excited. These guys are everything that OAF stands for: energetic, young and unabashedly self-aware. If it was a sign of things to come, I was eager to see what Catcall had in store. I am no stranger to her face, every time I open a magazine or newspaper there’s another interview, another plug for her forthcoming album or an ad for her tour. Her people have been working double time to ensure that she’s noticed. I figure they must believe she will be the next big indie pop darling, something Australia needs amidst the reality throwaways.
For a dance pop gig, it looked like there would be no getting down that night, the place was absolutely packed out for her ten o’clock performance. I feverishly tried to find a seat, but it looked like I’d be standing, and maybe even swaying if the space permitted.
The tune right before she came on was Toto’s Africa. Brilliant! – a great song to put me in the right frame of mind…and then it happened, she was there! She announced that it was a hometown performance and thanked everyone for coming. She was wearing a bright purple dress with puffy sleeves, matched with black shiny leggings, basically an outfit your mum would have coveted in the 80s. She didn’t announce the first song; I’m not sure if she just anticipated that the crowd were already familiar with her music or if it was nerves that made her forget. But I noticed that there was very little room for her to move about on the stage. With her on stage was a guy playing synth, a girl on bass, a guy on guitar and a drummer. The circumstances were pretty squished, but everyone kind of just stayed out of her way while she did her thing. If there was a crown for being the Queen of the hipsters, she would be wearing it. The dance moves and music were all unconventional, without any flow or structure, but you could tell by a quick scan of the crowd that this was obviously the new ‘cool thing’. The first half of the performance just blended into itself; without the vocals, you would have just thought it was all one long song.
The third song was I Believed; extra oomph from the synth and the lightshow followed. I understood that Catcall was the main act, but the rest of the band just seemed bored and going through the motions. She was the only one really performing. Paralysed made me realise that her vocals are a cross between Lady Gaga and Karen O, which in every sense of the word is a compliment. Art Star saw Catcall’s music do a 180 degree turn as it became a funky fast beat. If there had been any room, I reckon she could have woken the crowd up and have gotten us moving. When the song finished, she realised she should have introduced the crowd to the rest of the band. Tsk tsk poor manners young lady! The guy on synth was named Elson, Simon was on drums, Al (from The Palms) was on guitar and Bec (from an earlier act The Fabergettes) was on bass.
When Satellites came on, Al changed from electric to acoustic guitar, and then I finally understood the hype. This was what I went there for. I could imagine myself listening to this song whilst on my way to the beach on a hot summers day, cool beverage in hand. The last couple of songs picked up slightly, but my overall feeling of this evening didn’t really change. Our Catcall has a few learning curves if she wants to live up to her own name.