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Live Review: Sesh and the City 2018

Photo: Darcy Goss

For the average Tuesday night, standing in line at the Brightside at about 6.30pm is a pretty ballsy move. Technically, we haven’t even hit the middle of the week yet and we’re already deciding to head out for some beers and bands. Sweet move. But it all gets shaken up when the Ekka hits the town and, of course, nearly everybody has that Wednesday off, so going out looking for something to do isn’t even that bad.

Enter Sesh and the City. The lineup was filled with local acts and headlined by the one and only Heaps Good Friends. Packed to the brim with an insanely large variety and range of artists, it was obvious that we were all in for a good night.

Everything shakes, though, when you first walk through the doors of Brighty. The heavy bass pulls you in as Hope Ds soulful voice sings out the lyrics to Belly Ache by Billie Eilish. You expect a full and solid band with a fully decked out kit and yet, this woman stood on the stage alone surrounded by her loop pedal, microphones, guitar and drum pad. She did everything on the spot.

Looping your own music live now days seems to be quite the trend, but there was something in particular with how Hope D did it—maybe it was the fact that it felt as though her music was alive after she touched it. The crowd dissipates for a little after Hope D leaves the stage. Band members filter through the front door with their instruments, throwing their arms around friends and family they meet on the way to backstage.

All of a sudden, you hear the feedback from guitars and your eyes are drawn from the crowd to the stage. You’re transported back to the 1990’s. A tall raven-haired girl stands in the middle in an oversized bright pink kitten tee and black skorts, accompanied by two guitarists and a drummer who all look like they came straight out of ’10 Things I Hate About You’.

Guava Lava sound exactly how they look. If you can picture loud and classic punk rock music, it’s the only way how they can be described. Their loud and thrashing songs filled the entire venue, with the lead singer completely going off her nut in every single one. It’s almost as if Plumtree got smacked across the face with Joan Jett, and they were all screaming at the same time. It was almost surprising that they didn’t cover Bad Reputation.

Guava Lava left the stage with everyone drunk on their intense and crazily addictive music, and you’re left with the guitars and screams echoing in your ears. The crowd’s getting bigger, more people are turning up as the night goes on and you catch the attention of the woman who’s basically running the entire show.

Festival coordinator Prianka Thomas excitedly talks about how Sesh and the City is her baby, and the fact that she wouldn’t have been able put such a great show together without her colleague, Nick Cavdarski. She offers beers and looks like she has literally everything on her mind, and the only thing that calms her down is the solid sight of the next band setting up on stage.

Then the Bonnie Doons start playing. Rhythmic beats are the first noticeable thing, but literally everything melts away when you hear the lead singer belt out his first line. And damn, does this guy have a voice. The first impression is that this band really follows classic rock—the way the guitars are played, and the drums are featured, but as their set progresses it’s difficult to pin point a genre. Just when you start to get comfortable with their headbanging rock guitars, the singer starts to… rap. Not bad rapping either; in fact, it’s, “oh my god is that guy rapping?” type of rapping. Then when you start to feel comfortable with the rock/rap they’re giving you, they drop the beat and bring out solid reggae.

The Bonnie Doons can do no harm. They blew everyone away and turned a scattered crowd into a solid mosh pit within literally a few minutes into their set.

Everyone’s starting to get angsty now; people are shuffling around, not keen to leave their spots in the newly formed mosh. The Brightside is comfortably full at that time, to the point where a girl sat down close by and offered her velvet pants to touch. She talked about how much she was genuinely surprised by the rap/rock band, and she dropped out mid-sentence when drums of Something Sonny started playing.

Something Sonny looked and sounded like they belonged in an outdoor venue. Their smooth and simple indie-pop melodies had everyone in the venue swaying and getting lost in the music. Their lyrics moulding the mood of the mosh so easily as they swept everyone off of their feet. Their entire set flew by, as their touch left a sweet sound in your ears. The thing that stood out the most, though, was how perfectly their harmonies were mixed in with each other. The two singers’ voices melded so softly and gently with each other, that the main melody had to be transcribed with both parts.

Still on the high from Something Sonny, the guitarist from Guava Lava came around and offered a beer and a ciggie. He was really thankful to everyone he talked for coming to the gig and kept on talking about how he was excited to see everyone who came next, especially Seaside.

Soft blue and green lights as well as a building crowd welcomed Seaside to the party. This four-piece band brought the synthetic, sultry beach vibes to the stage and brought everyone underwater. The filtered wah of the guitars had the audience bopping softly to the beat, and the driving bass lines brought everyone closer to the stage. There was no space between the band and the mosh, and the intimate soft indie rock that filled your ears reflect that. The drummer and bassist seemed to work in perfect harmony, bringing the pulsing beats straight from their instruments to your bones. The lead singer’s soft and sweet vocals had such a sharp touch of intimacy that made it feel like you could relate to everything she sung about. Seaside really brought an intense, beachy warmth back into Sesh and the City.

One thing led to another, and then Shag Rock came on stage with their popped collars and fast jams. The only way to describe their funky t-shirts, chill guitar riffs, smooth basslines and hectic rim shots, is just classic rock/pop. They definitely have the type of music that you would listen to while on a road trip, and the type of music that the whole crowd jammed to on the night. With every song that was played, the crowd sung louder and danced harder, and without a doubt, Shag Rock doubled their energy. If they had to be compared, they could be described as an Australian Kooks, but even then, they were still incredibly original.

With people sitting on others’ shoulders, the crowd grew restless after Shag Rock left the stage. Now Sesh and the City was reaching its peak, and everyone had arrived in time to see the headliner, Heaps Good Friends come on stage.

Without a doubt, Heaps Good Friends stole the entire show. The trio flew through their entire set, pumping their aesthetic synth sounds all throughout the air of The Brightside. They brought such an incredible and pumping vibe to the finish of Sesh and the City and gave everyone the beautifully edgy sound that they were all waiting for. Heaps Good Friends showed off their new EP ‘Hug Me’ in the most brilliant and beautiful way that the audience was just fully blown away. Their almost video game-like sound mixed with the lead singer’s airy vocals defined the night and finished the night perfectly.

Heaps Good Friends was the perfect headliner. Incredible acts filtered all throughout the night, every single band brought their own touch and sound to the show, that it finished on the perfect note with this particular trio.

Sesh and the City finished with people slowly filtering out of The Brightside, hoping to stay a little longer to keep the feeling that was given to them throughout the night. Hoping to keep the bluesy attitude from Hope D, or the flashback to the ’90s with Guava Lava. Maybe even wanting to hear more of the crazy rock/rap introduced to them by The Bonnie Doons or even stay in the blissful moment given to them by Something Sonny. People hung around, talking in excited voices to the sultry beachy musicians of Seaside, and kept the boys of Shag Rock looking and feeling the effects of their pop/rock music.

But most importantly, everyone continued to have the aesthetically edgy 8-bit sounds of Heaps Good Friends pumping through their veins the entire night, and long after Sesh and the City.

Written by Jewel Csanyi-Vo