On Wednesday, Canberra welcomed back the ever eclectic and inspiring assortment of performances and performers that make up the You Are Here festival. On its first night, You Are Here presented the first time collaboration of Canberra musicians Emma Kelly and Liam White. Performing under the name Happy Axe X Ghost Noises, Kelly (Happy Axe) and White (Ghost Noises), produced an eclectic mixture of ambient chamber/trip-hop and world-hip, indie-pop loop fusion.*
Happy Axe X Ghost Noises performed in The Club, this year’s main venue. Situated on Northbourne Avenue, The Club is a well-lit space filled with milk crates and the comfortable chairs and couches that your grandma used to own (you know, the ones you were actually allowed to sit on). The environment was overall welcoming. White and Kelly heightened the environment’s warmth by greeting audience members at the door as if welcoming each person into their own home for a private, intimate gig.
Their staging was also intimate and somewhat informal. Rather than facing the audience, the two performers faced one another. This created a sense of the two artists performing with and to each other. Friendly banter between songs not only demonstrated their awareness of the audience but also invited the audience to share the experience with them. Their continual looking up and smiling displayed a sweet satisfaction in performing with one another.
The two young musicians performed an excellent set that blended bittersweet lyrics and a strong beat with a harmony of vocals and violin. While White claimed that his only contribution was adding “beats to everything” the two musicians worked extremely well together. Kelly’s violin and handsaw was expertly looped as were White’s drumbeats and piano melodies. Their vocal harmony was also exceedingly strong and complimented the beautiful lyrics.
The sizeable audience shared Kelly and White’s enthusiasm for the eclectic music. The audience produced a strong acclamation after each song and their only reservation was that the set was not long enough. Yet this was easily forgiven because of the collaboration’s newness. The audience were happy to share this wonderful experience.
Happy Axe X Ghost Noises‘ collaboration thankfully won’t be their last. Their performance highlighted one of the key strengths of the You Are Here’s festival: promoting and supporting emerging artists. Kelly and White are eager to write more songs, perform more gigs and even release an EP together.
Until then, catch them on Sunday for their second performance at Smiths, 8pm-9pm. Also check out their recording of ‘Sad Rise’ on soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/youbli.
*This has now become my new favourite genre of music.
Express Media’s Buzzcuts program is presented in Canberra in partnership with Scissors Paper Pen and You Are Here. Visit buzzcuts.org.au for more.
Image: Happy Axe and Ghost Noises
Rose Maurice has a happy life surrounded by words. Rose graduated from the ANU with a degree in Literature and History and has worked in a bookshop and now works at the National Library of Australia. An amateur in performance poetry and short stories, Rose has a tendency to write poems on the back of receipts and in the covers of novels she is reading. She is happy to be writing reviews again for the You Are Here festival.