The powerful torrents of Megan Donnelly’s voice spill out across the Coogee beachfront. At first, you can pick out the odd word, while the rest of the lyrics melt into a captivating siren-song that drags you helplessly across the Oval. You barely notice your ascent up Old Dave’s stairs, as you are intrigued and enchanted by this beautiful noise. By the time you reach the dance floor, it’s too late – you are now trapped in the inextricable spell cast by Megan and the Vegans. And so, the night begins.
The Vegans complement their enchantresses’ overwhelming talent by providing impossibly tight grooves. Clearly, they too channel a certain musical sorcery, for one cannot help but to dance along like marionettes. The whole package creates a satisfying cacophony, with the purity of the singer’s voice rising above the gyrating bodies. She exhibits no restraint, and unleashes an impressive array of vocal pyrotechnics that stun her already transfixed audience. The volume and power of the Mullumbimby-based act leave no doubt in any patron’s mind that Old Dave’s humble loft is comically small for such a massive sound.
Looking around the room, one might suspect that most fans are here to see Run Marlowe. The band have accrued quite a following since their inception, and I recognise a many patrons from previous gigs. This is confirmed moments later, when after some technical issues, the band launches into gear and instantaneously fills the dance floor. They open with an ambitious cover of ‘Binky’ – a driving number from Dallas-based jazz masters Snarky Puppy. They succeed in energising the bemused crowd, and their bold take on the original track is a very solid one. But it’s time now to delve into originals, treating the expectant crowd to a rousing performance of ‘Where I’ve Been.’
Run Marlowe are good – undeniably so. Their song-writing is mature and polished, and they are making great waves in Sydney’s indie-rock scene. But I am left to question whether they are quite as good on stage as they are in the studio. Sure, they are a far from dysfunctional live act, and justifiably impress fans both old and new. However, their crisp sound struggles slightly with the club’s PA, something they should perhaps take in mind when performing at similar venues in the future. Nevertheless, the four-piece play a well-rounded set dripping with their typical charm and charisma. This is a rock band that is leagues above the pub or garage-band varieties, and their fans know it.
Mesmeriser are far from disconcerted at the somewhat diminutive audience following Run Marlowe’s departure. Instead, a psychedelic fireball roars onto the stage, electrifying the room. Where the former act may possess a disparity between the quality of their studio and live sound, Mesmeriser are the opposite. What little recordings exist of the trio pale in comparison to their on-stage energy and vivacity. And this is before we arrive at their gutsy Hendrix cover.
Old Dave’s Soul is possessed by three unique, special acts tonight. The mystical Mullumbimby queen and her band of gypsies; the indie-rock heroes laughing in the face of virtuosic jazz legends; and the distorted, whirlwind of hard-rocking mayhem.
It’s a warm night in Sydney, but this room is on fire.
By Gabriel Jammy