I arrive outside Amplifier Capitol, nestled in an alleyway of Murray Street, early because I am a total geek. After waiting outside in the rain for half an hour, I finally realise that ‘Doors open at 8’ does not mean entrance allowed at 8. Had I known this fact, I might have taken my time. When I’m finally inside I proceed directly to the nearest free wall to wait for the fun to begin.
“Hi, I’m Morgan Bain” said Morgan Bain, the Perth raised multi-instrumentalist and vocalist now standing on the stage, pedals and switches at his feet, his hands resting on a keyboard/synth combo. The charismatic alternative soul artist used his seven-song set to show the audience the reason he’s a multiple award winner. Bain conversed with the audience – bantering, having fun and raising the collective mood. The strength and resilience of Bain’s voice, and the entertaining look of orgasm on face as he plays the guitar are reasons enough to see his live show.
Following Bain came Childsaint, a quartet whose technical skill and perfectionism in performance brought out an increasingly refined sound. The band could be described as angelic demons or demonic angels or a mix of the two; their soft and sweet voices coupled with the raw power of their instruments displaying the juxtaposition of beauty and anger. Despite numerous technical difficulties and a slightly later start, the women on stage built an easy rapport with the crowd. Drummer Ashlyn Koh looks like the lovechild of Kitty Flanagan and Animal from The Muppets, both in hairstyle and in her frantic, deft movements with her drums. There is something surreal about feeling the sound of the bass drum sending vibrations up your body through the wooden floorboards and being able to watch the talented musician doing it as your body is being affected.
By the time Little May took to the stage I had been standing for almost three hours. I was tired and I could feel my legs beginning to fail, but as soon as ‘Cicadas’ began, my troubles and my pain began to fade away. As the diminutive Hannah Field (vocalist) stepped towards the microphone her incredible voice filled the packed room, with soft words easily reaching over the crowd. In comparison to their recorded sound, the band was significantly different; Field’s live vocals having a much rawer and deeper quality.
Later in the show, rhythm guitarist and vocalist Liz Drummond apologised for her horrible sounding voice. She was fighting the flu and the effects of being a little high on pseudoephedrine. Drummond’s voice – partly from illness and partly from live performance – took on a raspy tone, complimenting Field and guitarist Annie Hamilton as their three voices harmonised to create an unreal sound.
Before launching into the dark and complex ‘Hide’, Field described the purpose of the structure of their set list. The order worked to create not just an entertaining performance but to bring the audience to join them on an “emotionally charged bushwalk.” ‘Hide’ was the point in the bushwalk where we had all reached “acoustic mountain” and the following ‘Midnight Hour’ was the post-mountain “drinking around the fire” song. The structure of the show generated an atmosphere that kept the audience enthralled.
The indie/folk/rock trio connected unnervingly well with the audience; the order created an atmosphere where time stood still. ‘Home,’ ‘Chemicals’ and ‘Dust’ were definite crowd favourites.
When self-proclaimed “dork” Field announced the remaining two songs there was a collective sigh of pain from the crowd. I’m not much for pain and discomfort, and after almost four hours of standing, my legs were in agony – despite this, if Little May had announced they were going to continue to play, I would have continued to stand where I was, just to prolong the sheer pleasure of listening and watching these incredible artists create music that both they and their audience love.
Words by Tyler Morgan