FBi Social, Kings Cross Hotel, Sydney, 22/09/11
Flume, one of Caitlin Park's fellow finalists in the recent FBi Northern Lights competition, got things moving with dancy electronica built with a laptop and plenty of knob-twiddling. It's easy to see this youngster carving a niche for himself. Next up, the impressively hirsute Tin Sparrow changed the tone a little with their bouncy, country-tinged folk. The five-piece had an affable, disarming stage presence, while their set was varied and had a good pace to it. The upbeat numbers got feet tapping, while, when they slowed things down, they managed to bring an otherwise chatty room to silence. Highlights included Eileen and For You from their EP, From The Sun, and the band even managed to squeeze in a surprise chorus of Happy Birthday for lead singer Matt Amery. Lovely stuff.
Caitlin Park (pictured, top) took to the stage looking delightful in a pretty dress and thick-rimmed glasses, and set about delivering songs from Milk Annual, the album she was there to launch. With one foot firmly in folk, the other in electronica, her songs were are intricately and beautifully pieced together using a loop pedal, an acoustic guitar, samples, snippets of dialogue and a drummer. Managing to remain interesting yet accessible to a live audience is a hard thing to achieve, yet her brand of folk with whispers of electronica was mesmerising from first song to last. Importantly, she was able to layer her songs while retaining a lo-fi quality. There was nothing messy, nothing superfluous here. Would You Let Me Back In was a fine example of this and also showed just what a good lyricist she is, while Baby Teeth proved that she also has the ability to deliver a catchy vocal hook or two.
While measured and intelligent, there was also an impish edge to her, which was best illustrated by the decision to throw in a cover of The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air theme tune. To take such an awesome, stupid song and to slow it right down and re-contextualise in a kind of Americana folk direction was impressive indeed and brought a big reaction from the busy room. Understated, nuanced and utterly captivating, Caitlin Park's music offers something different to anything else on the Sydney scene at the moment. Simply, she is a breath of fresh air.
Review by Bobby Townsend. It originally appeared in Sydney's Drum Media