Live Review: CLEA @ The Brightside, Brisbane

9 October 2023 | 3:33 pm | Ray Shindo

Stark contrasts and vivid musical experiences defined this unworldly night


CLEA (Credit: Jack Birtles)

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A seraphic indigo glow suffuses the air, as the tattooed walls gleam with sharp intensity. The mosh pit sits strangely vacant, while a smattering of chatter flourishes around the bar.

Lottie and her band amble onto the stage with nonchalant grace. All eyes sway to the stage as a lone drumbeat ignites the sonic evening. Soft pink and orange hues wash over the surroundings, setting the stage for Lottie's dreamy vocals that evoke a tranquil spring reverie. Her songs conjure a sensation of lying in a lush flower garden, surrounded by vivid blossoms. A charming moment unfolds when the young artist momentarily forgets to plug in her guitar, endearing her to the audience and infusing her performance with an authentic touch. Though singing to a barren floor, the absence of a crowd leaves an ethereal quality in her vocals, enveloping the venue in a surreal ambience.

After a brief interlude, Ghost Mutt storm the stage, shattering the dreamy soundscape. Their performance is a turbulent fusion of disparate sounds and genres, at times clashing and discordant. Their set exudes a niche allure that may polarise fervent admirers and skeptics alike. Hints of heavy metal elements surge through their music, creating an atmosphere teetering on the edge of chaos and underground experimentation.

Adding to the evening's uniqueness is the diversity of vibes emanating from the performers themselves. The lead vocalist exudes a rock/metal energy, while her neighbouring companion exhales dreamy indie pop vibes. The male vocalist introduces R&B and soul into the mix, and the remaining artists’ styles remain a compelling enigma. The electro-pop-infused keys further enrich this sonic experience. A standout in Brisbane's underground music scene, their performance encapsulates its raw energy and avant-garde spirit.

A swift change of lights kindles a dramatic shift in atmosphere. Drawn like moths to a flame, fans abandon the bar and gravitate towards the magnetic pull of CLEA. The Brisbane artist takes the stage, donning a distinctive pastel dress that exudes an edgy flair, complete with sheer puff sleeves. She rings her tambourine, effortlessly inviting us into her singular and captivating universe as she kicks off with her song Bad Behavior. Her vocals possess a unique pristine quality that only comes alive in this live rendition.

Her ability to harmoniously blend diverse styles showcases her versatility, creating a refreshingly distinct musical journey.

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The luminescence morphs into a wistful shade of violet, resonating with the anticipation in the room. Armed with a guitar, she casts a hypnotic and entrancing spell with Listen Up, evoking an ethereal alt-pop atmosphere reminiscent of Lana Del Rey.

Changing gears into an upbeat piece, Sugar, she infuses a touch of rock to the indie pop. She sets the crowd swaying and dancing to the beat, creating an irresistible feel-good moment.

The rhythm is cut off rather abruptly as she transitions into a slowed-down version of Easy To Forgive, suffused in cotton candy hue, somewhat like a drunk version of the original. It spurs a feeling of wandering home a little tipsy and a tad emotional.

She then delivers a haunting rendition of Full Moon by The Black Ghost, accompanied by Ghost Mutt. It carries psychedelic undertones that leaves the audience in raptures. As the mystic scent lingers in the air, she eases us into her dark pop anthem, Exit Game. Stylistically in contrast with her dreamier pieces, it intriguingly casts another layer of eeriness over the venue.

A pocket of silence fills the air. “Lots of sweat and tears went into this album, it was our COVID baby, and we’re stoked that it’s finally yours,” the Brisbane artist says, before dispelling the odd air with nostalgic sounds of Crash Land. It unfolds with a guitar-pop sound reminiscent of LEON, a vibe akin to dancing with our backs to the sunset.

She continuously captivates with her chameleonic vocal prowess, as she ventures into the melancholic tones of Market. It carries a swirling dizziness that mirrors Easy To Forgive, with the live rendition exuding even more emotion through her angelic vocals. Watching her perform in a fluffy pink dress with such somber vocals gives of a somewhat broken Barbie doll vibe.

I Wanna Be Alive has everyone singing and inhaling a summer breeze as if driving down Sunshine Avenue with a carefree, beachy vibe. The guitar cuts through the warm chatter-filled air as she continuously delves into a rendition of Tabitha, seamlessly merging different sounds. Breathe follows with a rendition that transports us to a vintage pop rock music scene simultaneously sounds both fresh and familiar.

As the night reaches its crescendo, CLEA gives a casual thanks, triggering an immediate encore even before her exit. The audience's clamorous calls are so intense that they induce mic feedback, resulting in a shrill and discordant noise ringing through the venue. An ‘80s synth wraps the venue in a soft grip as she concludes with her song Dreaming, whisking us away into a whirl of dreams.

Stark contrasts and vivid musical experiences defined this unworldly night. It was one where the audience wholeheartedly embraced the cathartic beauty of live music and immersed themselves into the artists’ unique realms, all while the cool valley night beckoned just beyond the doors.