an evening in hipster fairyland
Last night The Cutest Guy Ever led me to hipster fairyland. You may recall my new Couchsurfing buddy from a previous post. Last night TCGE hit it out of the park again, with a text about a live music gig at an underground party space in a warehouse in Surry Hills. I had no idea what to expect – images of bare lightbulbs and strung out ravers (at 6-10pm?) crossed my mind, so I brought a friend and made backup plans just in case.
We showed up at the Hibernian House, a 5 storey former warehouse at 342 Elizabeth St. and saw signs in the hallway for the Folkraiser festival. Suddenly bare lightbulbs were candles and strands of white fairy lights, and strung out ravers morphed into smiling bright eyed shiny happy hipsters sharing BYO bottles and cups of spiced apple tea. We took the elevator up to the second floor with the adorable Lee sisters – Faith and Rachel – who arrived just in time for their set. We followed the giggling Lees down a graffiti covered hallway still surprised at how quiet it was and not entirely sure we were in the right place.
I texted TCGE to confirm, and the door opened to a warmly lit space, smiley girls at the door collecting the $15 cover and pushing cupcakes and other home-baked goodies. We walked down a hallway into a spacious room where the crowd lay in varying degrees of sprawl on carpets, pillows, milk crates and stools. My friend and I settled in cross legged in the front and gazed up at indie-folky-country (whatever) duo The Falls as they began their set.
The pair are exes who decided to sing rather than wallow about the breakup. Their voices harmonize nicely even if they didn’t as a couple, and their songs are melodic backed up by guitar, stomp box and the occasional melodica. From my seat on the floor, I felt like I was at storytime. The Falls sing sincere songs about love, regret, and heartbreak. I told the guy after the set that he was a great storyteller, and TCGE teased me that I just wanted to talk to him because he’s hot (he is). I love the namesake single from their EP, Hollywood – about girls growing up too fast and boys getting too big for their small town bars. I’m considering buying their EP but according to their website, I could also buy a live Skype concert for $350. Bedtime stories?
After the set, we found seats near the back with TCGE and his friends and bought a few cups of apple tea (with straws of course). Next up Faith Lee, with backup from her sister, sang twangy alt-country and entertained the crowd with banter about accidentally dressing matchy-matchy and stories about growing up as part of a nomadic family band driving a caravan from gig to gig around Australia.
Maple Trail – some guy named Aiden with a messy mop of curls and a great voice – mesmerized me with his solo atmospheric folk soundscapes. I sipped my apple tea and drifted out those big loft windows for a minute…
Finally, Packwood – the band who threw the party to raise $ for their EP assembled. Nine of them, including a bassoon and two violins. The frontman had some tuning issues, but it was such a warm-fuzzy kind of night that nobody seemed to mind. They just kept cuddling and waited it out. And it was worth the wait – a symphony with banjo. Packwood’s arrangements are bright and expansive but they felt a bit short – these are journey songs and I wanted the journey to last longer. Aiden joined in to harmonize on a couple of songs. I’m glad I could do my small bit to help this music get out there – it was beautiful and made me want to frolic with the birds Packwood sings about – “Spring saplings/twigs snapping/wings flapping” Here’s a short clip I uploaded:
The three of us raced down the colourful staircase and burst through the back door laughing. A warm breeze drifted through hipster fairyland, and carried me off peacefully to sleep.
Some of the bands are playing again next Saturday night at a Super-8 projector picnic. I’m so there.