Live Review: Jess Ribeiro, Dianas, Jaala

1 March 2018 | 9:15 am | Sean A'Hearn

"Surround yourself with people who are better than you. That's what I do!"

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Admitting she was "dilly-dallying" before her set, Cosima Jaala comes on stage 15 minutes late and then nonchalantly slips her guitar over her shoulder to get proceedings underway. Playing to an almost empty room, her sultry vocal tones and reverb-drenched guitar are mesmerising as the music slowly engulfs the room. Jaala might be a one-woman band, but boy does she know how to fill a space with soulful music!

As people slowly start entering the bandroom, parking themselves on the well-worn, sticky Tote carpet, the sound of the resident punk band out the front floats in through the open door to comical effect.

Getting a glowing endorsement from Jaala as "her favourite live band", garage-pop band, Dianas open with an instrumental intro before kicking into the dreamy Heart Of Me. Guitarist and bassist, Caitlin Moloney and Nathalie Pavlovic respectively, have sweet voices but it is drummer, Anetta Nevin who really steals the show. Literally moving to the beat of her own drum(s), she has such an infectious presence, that it's hard to take your eyes off her. Despite the false start on one song, and drum pedal issues, the band soldier on, lifting the energy levels of everyone in the room. An amiable set, even with the technical hiccups.

Launching a successful Pozible campaign to help fund a trip to SXSW this month, Jess Ribeiro thanks the crowd for supporting her. "We're going to Texas on Monday!" she beams. Unveiling songs from her unreleased record, Young Love, Ribeiro and her band are essentially having a live rehearsal. Well it certainly feels this way, with an odd, unpolished vibe at times. Ribeiro herself seems very disconnected, performing with her back to the audience, re-tuning the guitar and not engaging the crowd between songs. She even needs her phone to remember the lyrics to one song. Clearly hampered by technical issues on stage ("so many strange noises up here"), Ribeiro nevertheless pushes on and lets her unwavering band be the real stars (stopping the show from completely derailing).

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The squall of distortion, feedback and guitar effects adds a depth to the music that keeps it exciting. Upon finishing her new album, Ribeiro breaks into a couple of her singles: Hurry Back To Love, abruptly cutting it short since she forgets how it ends, before another false start on Kill It Yourself. The audience sees the funny side, though, as Ribeiro tells the audience, "Surround yourself with people who are better than you. That's what I do!"

This cues Dianas to light up the dancefloor, a friendly fan called Ruby to start spruiking Ribeiro's album and an impromptu wedding song Ribeiro wrote for a married couple to appropriately close out this odd, mixed bag of a night.