Live Review: At First Sight

22 July 2013 | 2:36 pm | Timothy Scarfe

An awesome day for an awesome cause – here’s hoping that At First Sight becomes a mainstay of the Sydney calendar.

We all know we should be buying more records. It's a fact which is easily too forgotten in the new Spotify age, but something many of us are guilty of. 

But instead of just lamenting about our collective musical failures, FBi presenter Marty Doyle decided to do something about it. The result was At First Sight, a massive record fair and independent music festival crammed into the Carriageworks art space in Redfern.

The jam-packed line-up and the ocean of records to flick through meant planning was important. For those who were able to pull themselves away from the humungous record fair in time for the early acts, Shining Bird put in a great set full of luscious harmonies and subtle melodies.

The swirling instrumentation filled the Bay 17 stage, with the band's well thought out arrangements even more evident in the live setting. Debuting songs from their upcoming first LP, the quality of the songwriting was a clear standout. While at first glance each member might have been playing relatively simple chords, the melodies fitted together seamlessly and allowed for complexity in each song. Distant Dreaming and Keep Warm were standout tracks, and the smallish crowd that caught the performance walked away with a new band to place on their 2014 watch list.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

A few more record purchases later, it was back into the main stage area to catch new punk rockers Straight Arrows, who put on a raucous performance that was easily one of the highlights of the day. The band's duelling guitars made each track instantly memorable, while the driving rhythm section meant none of the songs veered off course. All of Straight Arrow's scuzzy tracks sounded tightly wound, like they could've exploded at any second. Something Happens showed this off perfectly, the rubber band guitar riffs getting tighter the longer the track went on, only to be released by the explosive solo. A wildly fun set – lead singer Owen Penglis's crowd interaction was priceless – and a band we'll hopefully hear more of in the very near future.

Final act of the night was local independent music legends HTRK, whose excellent performance showed glimpses of new material. The dark, moody Carriageworks stage seemed as if it were made specifically for HTRK. And the band certainly didn't disappoint, with a visceral set featuring tracks from their two seminal albums as well as songs fresh from the studio floor. These new songs again displayed the minimalist and textured aesthetics which have become synonymous with the band; however, Jonnine Standish's lyrics seem less detached than in previous records. A little warmer, almost. The set did nothing to diminish the anticipation which will undoubtedly greet the band's latest release, scheduled for later this year.

An awesome day for an awesome cause – here's hoping that At First Sight becomes a mainstay of the Sydney calendar.