Oxford Art Factory is jammed early, with their general well-dressed, impolite clientele.
All through this show, I am surprised by how many groups of people think it appropriate to have loud conversations, sit on stairs and use flash photography to take group shots while the bands are playing.
All of these factors distract people from whoever is on stage, an unfair part of playing a small venue.
Sydney band Art of Sleepingstart their set with strong vocals and good sound, a quality to be highly praised. The drummer pounds away at his kit, at times sounding similar to the drummer in band-of-the-moment Alt-J, driving the beat hard over the melodies.
Art of Sleeping give me a few of those “Oh they sound like…” moments throughout, ranging from Matt Corby to Mumford and Sons. This isn’t to say they’re unoriginal, rather their music is of that same quality and can evoke feeling and emotion from those listening.
A couple of unoriginal tracks filled up their set time – a Van She cover that the singer confesses he’s forgotten the words to a couple of times and a great cover of Neil Young‘s ‘Cowgirl in the Sand’.
Overall, Art of Sleeping were the perfect band to set the mood for the night.
The Paper Kites string up some lanterns on stage, to really set the scene for their music. I can’t help but be reminded of very early Angus and Julia Stone gigs by these decorations, and their influence can be heard when the music starts.
They amble through the first few songs, that get cheers with the opening chords. They start to tell a story about song ‘Leopold Street’, which is a sad song with a sad story to match. When the singer tells the crowd it’s a sad story, someone in the crowd yells “Woo!”. The singer replies with “No” and says it happened the last time they played too, something he doesn’t understand.
The band are very relaxed and play well with each other. They create a very meditative atmosphere – so much so I almost fall asleep standing up – but this is stopped by the large group of people behind me who decide it’s a good time to pose for a group photo. The music coming from the stage is quiet and requires attention to be able to appreciate it, as well as consderation from the crowd so they are heard. It’s unfair they don’t receive this consideration throughout their set, as they do deserve it.
The Paper Kites‘ music can take you deep into thought and can make you travel through your own mind. Something that should be true of most acoustic, quiet bands’ music. They round out the night with a cover of Fleetwood Mac‘s ‘Dreams’ – unfortunately in the wrong key due to the misplacement of a capo.
The set was full of beautiful and relaxing moments and was very enjoyable for this reason. I can’t help but hope that next time, the crowd can appreciate the music they are there to see more.