The best kind of Thursday night is a Thursday night spent at The Workers Club. Luckily enough for me, I have in fact spent several Thursday nights on the corner of Brunswick and Gertrude Streets. This night, in particular, was one I was definitely looking forward to.
Thursday June 15 saw Rya Park headline the band room, with supporting sets from Bloom and Jack the Fox. Not only did Rya headline an incredible show, she played to a sold-out crowd- the first I’d seen for the very band room I have spent an awful lot of time in.
I managed to catch the second half of Bloom’s set, and well, this girl really needs no introduction. I was instantly a fan after seeing her come runner up in the 2016 Melbourne Music Bank finale.
I also then scored the opportunity to review her single launch back in January (you can find it here!)
From experience, Bloom puts on immensely diverse sets- she is possibly the most vocally diverse artist I’ve seen out of Melbourne in a long time, and this set was no exception. She moved away from the soulful jazz I had once seen her play and headed towards the electronic pop thing- something I totally appreciate. Playing an entirely solo set with her laptop and guitar worked entirely to her advantage, and showed the audience yet again that she is a powerful, emerging Melbourne artist and a complete force
to be reckoned with. I actually almost forgot how good she is until I saw her that night, so definitely look her up if you haven’t yet.
The next act of the night was occasional-duo, occasional-five-piece-band act Jack the Fox. I’d literally never heard of these guys before seeing them (I honestly prefer it that way sometimes- it’s so much easier going in entirely unbiased), but far out they were unbelievable.
Overcoming some initial technical issues, the lead singer especially just got on with it- which is literally what this whole live music thing is about. I was left speechless the minute he opened his mouth- before he’d even started the set. What a voice this guy has and what a band these guys are. The audience were introduced to some Mumford and Sons-ish, storyteller vocals with incredibly picturesque lyrics. The underlying haunting tone in his voice had me on edge the entire time, and yet each song was different from the rest.
Oh it gets better, though. They managed to get a didgeridoo on stage. And play it whilst alternating with vocals. I mean, seriously, why have I only just come across this band? These guys were honestly just awesome, and totally embodied the rawness of the Melbourne music scene.
Rya graced the audience with her presence not too long after Jack the Fox blew everyone away. Rya Park also fronts Melbourne-based band Tempus Sun, who were the winners of the 2016 Melbourne Music Bank. She is one artist who can perform either way and still completely encapsulate everyone in the audience.
Watching Rya perform was like staring into the soul of Ella Hooper- circa Weir. She’s definitely got the potential to have a long withstanding career, too. Rya also embodies the power of women in the music industry, with her songs sharing the theme of freedom.
The highlight of her set was her cover of London Grammar’s Strong. Not going to lie, I was totally nervous when she announced it- they’re one of my favourite bands. And let’s not forget that Hannah Reid is one of the best vocalists going around. Covering any song of theirs, let alone their most popular, is a tough gig, but Rya nailed every second of it. It was just awesome to see an artist challenge themselves and succeed.
I’m finding it difficult whilst writing this to pull apart her set, just because she’s honestly so good. I did struggle to hear her speaking when introducing her songs, but considering it was a sold-out show that was to be expected. There were no flaws apart from that, however.
Rya’s final (well second-from-final) song of the night, highlighted just how versatile and dynamic her range is. It was a powerful, assertive song that had everyone on their feet. The backing vocalists really came to light as well, with everyone both on and off stage becoming involved. The crowd loved it so much that they demanded an encore, and Rya was awesome enough to meet their demands- something I’ve definitely never seen happen at a small gig. She encored with an upbeat tune- quite contrasting from the previous one- to round out the night.
Rya Park is an act to watch, and a name to remember. Her free-spirited, yet passionate tracks are catchy, well-performed and just a whole lot of fun.
Written by Jordyn Hoekstra