Monkey with a Drum | Josh PykeThe Concert Hall at QPAC is not usually found packed full with an audience of predominantly 18 to 25 year old, chatty, casually dressed music lovers; nor did it seem that Whitley, 78 Saab and Josh Pyke have usually found themselves playing in such a venue. Yet despite the somewhat obscure setting, the ‘Monkey with a Drum’ concert actually worked really well. The atmosphere was chilled and intimate, the audience relaxed in their comfortable seats, the staging of the concert well thought out, and the performers excelled in their opportunity to play in such an acoustically exciting venue.

The first support act for the evening was the enchanting and lyrical Whitley, a 22 year old Melbourne based singer/songwriter. His boyish charm and gentle melodies whisked the audience away into a surreal and peaceful aural landscape. His combination of acoustic guitar with electronic sound is almost emblematic of combining ‘the old with the new’, and certainly his music has a certain reminiscent feel to it. 

78 Saab followed Whitley’s performance with their upbeat indie pop set that literally set the audience dancing in their seats (and as we were informed later by Josh Pyke, we weren’t allowed to stand, but seat dancing was most acceptable). Every element of 78 Saab’s music completely compliments every other element in the song; their combinations of instruments are seamless. Unfortunately, lead singer Ben Nash was often hard to understand. Whether he was too close to the microphone, or just not very articulate, the lyrics of the songs were often lost and simply blended into the melody.

After a short interval, we were ushered back in to the Concert Hall, to discover that a set change had occurred for Josh Pyke’s performance. The cover art from his ‘Feeding the Wolves’ album was expanded into a large white backdrop, while small speaker covers, also in the same design, were placed around the stage. Throughout Pyke’s set, striking lighting combinations of vivid blues, bright greens and sunset oranges were used on the backdrop. This was one of the greatest advantages that the Concert Hall offered the performance – its ability to enhance the concert visually, not just acoustically. 

Josh Pyke entered the stage to huge applause. He was a little bewildered by the magnitude of the venue, yet his warm and welcoming attitude made the 1800 seat theatre seem small and intimate – as if he really was playing to us in his lounge room. His smooth acoustic sounds and fairy-tale like lyrics, combined with his genuine, relaxed, and relatable demeanour, complemented each other to create an honest and fun atmosphere. His anecdotal interludes comprised of stories of failing to buy the correct IKEA products for his girlfriend, or saying hello to some long lost cousins in the audience. 

A second small set change occurred halfway through his set, where a freestanding ‘living room’ back drop was brought onstage. Additionally, UV lights were projected onto the original backdrop, bringing out previously unseen glowing lines in the artwork, and creating a backyard twilight in the middle of the Concert Hall. Josh Pyke’s genuine delight at the UV lights on the backdrop just made the guy even more likeable.

As a performer, his even vocals and amazing acoustic guitar melodies seem like sincere representations of his personality – steady, talented and humble. Some of his lyrics tell tales from his childhood, often mix in mythical metaphors, and are always engaging stories to hear.

The ‘Monkey with a Drum’ tour is sure to be successful with its performers alone. Yet having the concert in QPAC’s Concert Hall added just that extra special touch, with its ability to incorporate highly technical lighting states and relaxing atmosphere. Josh Pyke is a brilliant Australian artist and I look forward to following his future career.

Triple J & MySpace present
Monkey with a Drum Tour
Josh Pyke

Venue: Concert Hall, QPAC
Date/Time: Thu 1 Nov, 8.00pm
Tickets: (inc. fees) $38.50
Bookings: QTIX 136246

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