Ocean Alley @ Metropolis Fremantle
w/ Great Gable, Elli Schoen
Friday, May 11, 2018
Metropolis Fremantle was packed on both levels by 9pm on the night of Ocean Alley’s WA show. Having successfully sold out Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane at their side shows for this year’s Groovin The Moo, it was with an air of anticipation that the venue filled up so quickly.
Local Fremantle singer-songwriter Elli Schoen stood alone on stage with her red guitar and her huge vocals when I entered. She looked small but her voice dominated the room as she sung from her EPs such as Gold Mess and Love In Suburbia. She was captivating and her indie pop was easy to listen to.
Just like Schoen, Great Gable was an excellent choice as a supporting act. With some of their well-known songs having almost a million streams on Spotify, this local band took to the stage with a huge response from the crowd. Their indie rock influences and lyrical depth cascaded through the room making quite an impact. They have complicated guitar riffs backing the natural storytelling ability of singer Alex Whiteman with the support of the happiest drummer I’ve ever seen in Callum Guy. Standout songs were Drift and All Day Long which recently had a debut music video published to it. If you haven’t heard of them before, reprioritise your day because with the quality of their music it’s only a matter of time until they’ll be selling out their own gigs at venues as iconic as Metropolis.
For Ocean Alley the lighting on stage was brought down to only reflect three long green beams as the six-piece entered. Naturally, the crowd were pushing against the barriers with beers being spilt on the ground and on their neighbours. It was tight in that room, which you could either love or hate. A bathroom break would mean at least four songs to make your way back to where you were if you could even push your way through the waves of Ocean Alley fans. When stars of the night began their set with songs from their first album Lost Tropics the crowd went ballistic as the boys crooned Yellow Mellow and Fly on the wall. Throughout the set, they incorporated a lot of songs from their newest album Chiaroscuro, with Confidence leading the popularity vote. A humble moment during the set was found when the band stepped off stage leaving keyboardist Lach Galbraith and lead singer Baden Donegal to sing the stripped-down version of Man You Were Looking For.
There is a truly sensual aspect to the music Ocean Alley have produced so far with their clever layering of slow, melodic guitar riffs running over fast paced drumming and electric keyboards. The freedom they have as a six-piece band to create textualised music is phenomenal, as each member adds more depth to their music. At first, I didn’t understand why they needed so many members but it makes so much sense when you watch them live. Their psychedelic and rule breaking music could only be achieved live with the input of so many. To stress, their live set was seamless, echoing their recorded music and enhanced by their sensual stage presence. A true feat when considering just how complicated some of their music is. There is nothing predictable about the direction they will take a song. But when they get it right…
Photos by Owen Gregory