Beach House playing in Bangalow! At first I didn’t believe it, but there it was, Art park was selling tickets to a mini-festival with Jack Ladder, Sharon Van Etten, Bored Nothing and the sublime Beach House, they came all the way from Baltimore to grace our little stage.
The night was hot, the girls wore loose dresses and flowers in their hair, the boys swilled sweaty beer and the lone security had a big, broad smile. Outside there were mellow groups sprinkled on the lawns and perched on gutters. There was a hum of banter as everyone laughed about the heat.
By the end of the night we would be sweaty but elated and even though we’re only two weeks into the new year I’m calling it, best gig of 2013.
Filing into the A&I Hall of Bangalow was like arriving at a school music recital or a town meeting. There was a canteen with cakes and lemonade and high ceilings with white washed frescoes. There was uncertainty about it being BYO, but those on the door seemed ambivalent so most clutched a bottle and swayed with the music.
Bored Nothing played to a crowd both inside and out but it was the booming voice of Jack Ladder that pulled everyone indoors. There was a soft haze of heat and in front of the stage there was a sea of cross-legged fans nodding along to the five piece band.
Sharon Van Etten played with no accompaniment, just her guitar and her raspy voice. Her tunes filled the room, mellow and haunting. There were folks dancing close to the stage and others sitting on the floor, you could head up to the balcony or find a seat side of stage.
By the time Beach House took the stage everyone was inside and there was still ample room to move. I squeezed to the front for some photos, no-one was pushing, everyone had smiles and was stoked to be part of it.
Victoria LeGrand wore her trademark white jacket and in the low-light it shimmered, her mop of hair flailed as she pounded her keyboard and wailed into the mic. Their set had all the favourites, they opened with tracks off their latest album, they had everyone transfixed right from the start. The lighting and sound guys did a stellar job, they ditched their shirts early in the night, the girls were losing their minds.
They left the stage before coming back under a hail of cheers. They finished with ‘Take Care’, and everyone sang along, “I’ll take care of you…take care of you…that’s true.” A perfect way to end the night.
The scale of the gig was intimate, the stage was small but in perfect balance with the hall. There were no fights and only a couple of dickheads. I met a heap of new crew that had come from far away, both up and down the coast.
Big props go out to Spunk Tones for having the balls to attempt a show like this. Here’s to hoping the success will push them to try it in the future. But then again, to those that didn’t make it… Sorry, you missed something special.