[Gig Review] Waves of sound pound Canberra Theatre as Ocean Alley and Seaside celebrate the return of the live show

Review by Rory McCartney

Four-piece indie band Seaside from Byron Bay reputedly has a dream-pop vibe. However, the PA setup on the night never gave the punters a chance to fully appreciate them. The bass drum obscured the guitars and vocalist Darcy was never given the opportunity to let her singing shine.

Fortunately, headliners Ocean Alley, riding high on a wave of Triple J love, made up for the opening disappointment.

The band’s moniker suits their type of music well, with a varied sound that reflects the ocean in all its moods: powerful, angry, soothing and hypnotic in its movement. They sent great echoing waves of sound booming over us; the instrumentalists played with a cool detachment. They left it up to front man Baden Donegal, resplendent in black and white with trendy ‘shrunk in the wash’ trousers to project the passion (but still in a cool, understated fashion, of course).

The big sound was well matched by a great light show, with smokey cones of multi-coloured illumination filling the atmosphere. It was left up to the audience to demonstrate the emotion. For a long time COVID discipline held, with small, isolated groups of dancers quickly extinguished by torch wielding ushers. However, it all became too much to bear, and a tsunami of dancers rose up, with almost all punters on their feet. One woman threw her bra at the band. A great shot, it travelled over several rows to land on the stage edge. However, no-one else followed suit (good undies are so expensive). 

Opening sound issues aside, the night was a triumph, if for no other reason than at last, the long COVID live music drought is breaking, with out-of-territory bands reappearing on our stages.

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