It had been a while since I spent a Thursday night out at a gig, and for someone who loves Melbourne’s music scene- it’d been way too long.
Thursday August 24th saw indie-pop, up-and-comer ALLOLA headline The Retreat Hotel, supported by Kelsie Rimmer and CHMBRS. Having previously seen ALLOLA and CHMBRS, I was more than keen to get along to the night, and having heard nothing but good things about Rimmer, I was sold.
My very first observation when I go to a gig is the set- up of the venue. The Retreat Hotel provided a set-up definitely different to what I’m used to. The sit-down, relaxed vibe may have worked for a Thursday night. But was it suitable for the artists who played? I don’t necessarily think so.
CHMBRS was the first act of the night. Having taken part in RSOM Live Show # 4 earlier this year, I was looking forward to seeing what she was going to bring to the table. She didn’t disappoint. On stage accompanied only by her keyboard and her Macbook, CHMBRS delivered to the crowd her own take on Tears for Fears’ 1982 classic Mad World. A difficult song for an artist to sing, let alone make their own, CHMBRS provided a haunting, transfixing take on the tune and allowed her own vocal ability to dominate.
Mad World wasn’t CHMBRS only cover of the night, performing Banks’ Gemini Feed later on in the set. I had heard, and really taken to her cover before, but the stakes are high when the artist and the reviewer are both massive Banks fans. I really enjoyed how she’d mixed the track, giving it a slightly more upbeat sound yet without losing any emotion.
Highlights of CHMBRS set included original tracks The One and Reverie. I was feeling massive Banks vibes from The One, and Reverie has just been one of my favourite tracks of hers since I first saw her. Once again, CHMBRS delivered vocally, performing a personal and reflective track for the audience.
I really appreciated her little anecdotes before she began each song, demonstrating just how much she loves and values the work she does.
Next to the stage was Kelsie Rimmer, the only artist of the night that I had not seen before. Those in the audience who were in a similar boat to me needn’t to worry; however, as she took a minute or two before her set to introduce herself and set up her story. This is honestly something I wish more artists would do.
Rimmer spent her set alternating between acoustic and electronic performances, showing off the diversity in her sound- it was impressive to watch. Her acoustic tracks were folky, showing off her alternative vocals. Vocally, she could’ve been Gabrielle Aplin’s twin. And I was totally okay with this.
Even her electronic sound was quite laidback, and I couldn’t determine which side I preferred more. I think what struck me most about Rimmer was her down-to-earth, light-hearted personality. Regardless of the type of music she was delivering, her personality shone through and was reflected in what she was doing.
The highlight of her set was without a doubt her cover of TLC’s 1999 cult-classic, No Scrubs. It was by far the most original cover I’d heard of it, being far more passive. In saying that, she made it work for her perfectly, and the direction she took with it was much more suited to her as an artist.
It was then that the crowd picked up, getting excited to see what ALLOLA was going to do. Despite being a free gig, this was expected. After all, it was her headliner.
From the outset, ALLOLA had the crowd on their feet. Starting her set with really upbeat tracks, including Carry, this set the scene for the rest of the night. Her music was fun, catchy and engaging, the kind of tunes you’d set off on a road trip to. I definitely went home singing them.
Like her supporting acts, ALLOLA, too was down-to-earth and didn’t take herself too seriously. I really appreciated this as it meant she was able to put her all in to the music she was playing. She graced the stage amazingly, her presence in front of the audience being one of her most notable assets. If she keeps this up, you’ll definitely see her going places.
Her original tracks included Voyage, which was along the lines of songs such as Dua Lipa’s Room for 2, which was an absolute highlight of mine to watch. This Life was also another highlight. Synthesised really well, it definitely is a ‘single-worthy track.’
There were covers all round, and ALLOLA wasn’t exempt from this. Her cover of MGMT’s Electric Feel, was not a new one to her set, but nonetheless demonstrated her abilities as a pop vocalist and continued the upbeat scene she had set.
Mentioned earlier, my biggest criticism of the night was the set-up of the venue. The ‘sit down at a table,’ thing works for acoustic sets. But all three of these girls were fierce, provided the beats and had a point to prove. I definitely feel as if the vibe between the artist and audience would’ve been enhanced in a venue dedicated to the type of music they were playing.
Nonetheless, the girls worked with what they had and delivered individually, for what was an awesome night.
You can check out more of ALLOLA here:
Written by Jordyn Hoekstra