It is a Wednesday night and the Black Bear Lodge is filled with the sounds of up and coming Australian artists. An intimate collection of music lovers filter into the venue, quickly filling the small candle-lit tables and booths. Vintage clocks and paintings adorn the patchy brick walls, and a velvet red curtain provides the perfect backdrop for the bands. It is my first visit to the lodge, and I am instantly intrigued by its textures and comfortable in the homey, relaxed atmosphere.
Getting to the venue early was a good idea, as the lodge soon begins to fill with people of all ages, from young twenty-something’s to older couples. Snagging a booth seat by the front of the stage I sit down with an apple cider and my camera, and get ready for Jakarta Criers.
The night starts with two amazing support acts, ‘Bandito Folk’ and ‘Rin and The Reckless’. Bandito Folk, a local Brisbane band whose keyboard player Aled is perhaps one of the happiest musicians I’ve ever seen, were a great blend of folky ballads and rock. Meanwhile Rin and The Reckless, a brilliant Adelaide band who have played with both national and international artists, delivered a gorgeous pop-indie set. Lead singer/guitarist/keyboardist Rin has a husky, honest voice that reminds me of a mix between Jem, Missy Higgins and Adele.
Following on from these two brilliant bands is Jakarta Criers, who begin their set with a shrill, electric riff that breaks through the silence, building steadily to a crescendo. For a couple of guys dressed in relaxing tropical shirts, Jakarta Criers play with a ferocity that suggests they are definitely not in holiday mode. Onstage they appear like a group of boys messing around in their garage, full of infectious excitement. Similarly, lead guitarist Seaton Fell-Smith is a sight not to be missed. Barefoot, he attacks his instrument with a ferocity that is akin to watching a fisherman fighting an aggressive fish. Struggling, giving, coming back for more; he fights for control of his instrument. It reminds me of a quote I heard many years ago of synth player Ollie Mcgills from The Cat Empire, whose band mates described his passionate performances in the following way:
“It’s like his keyboard is a train, and his hands are trapped in the carriage and he’s trying to keep up. The faster he plays, the easier it is.”
During the set I move around freely, taking photos of the bands without having to worry about aggressive or drunken patrons pushing me around; taking in the music as I simultaneously snap away. Around me there is plenty of enthusiastic nodding and toe-tapping from the audience as they watch on eagerly, especially during Jakarta Criers boppy rock tracks ‘Maybe’ and ‘Peeking Duck’.
To describe their sound, I would say that musically they remind me of a mix between Something For Kate, Birds of Tokyo and the Lost Dinosaurs, delivering a blend of indie rock which is full of lively electric riffs, catchy choruses and nostalgic vocals. There is also something about the tone of lead vocalist James Walker’s voice that reminds me of Paul Dempsey, leaving me with a beautiful nostalgia that I can’t quite place.
As the set comes to a close, the guys pack up their instruments and wander down towards the bar. Another great thing about the Black Bear Lodge is the small structure of the venue, which creates a very intimate and comfortable environment; one in which you can easily stop and say hi to any of the artists and maybe even have a chat as they leave the stage. I really believe that venues like this are important to our city, and give audiences and artists the chance to connect on a more personal level. I will definitely be back to check out more live music there soon!
To see more photo’s from the night please click here.