"Panousakis urged us to 'shake our hips, kiss some people and shake our bums'."
Sydney-based Bears With Guns were a welcoming start to this forest animal-themed evening, kicking off their set with a warm, folky number that commanded the crowd's attention, who all shyly hugged the edges of the room, ignoring the band's command to come closer so they could kiss them.
Singer Rob Saunders and keyboardist John Glocklan were hashing out beautiful, lingering harmonies that included some killer falsetto during older track Taken For A Fool, while the driving rhythms provided by the new drummer (who had his debut this evening) during Wandering Soldier kept the crowd toe-tapping. They closed their brilliant set with new single The Deep End, which is an absolute earworm with a hook reminiscent of a folkier version of a Jebediah track.
The crowd weren't so welcoming for Stonefox, choosing to be a bit chatty throughout their set. Nonetheless, they took it in their stride and treated us to a set of dreamy, indie-pop tunes. Jenna Russo's vocals were the perfect balance of husky and sweet, having no trouble filling the room with her relatable lyrics, with her strong vocals becoming the centrepiece for most tracks against the shimmering, ambient accompaniment. Ghost and This City were standout tracks in the set, which this reviewer will be adding to her summer playlist. Keep an eye on these three; they have the makings to be big.
Timberwolf and his band entered through a haze to ease us into their set with the ambient intro of Stranded. This evening's performance was to celebrate the release of his second EP Flux, compiling a very accomplished band to provide both triumphant instrumentals and downtempo accompaniment to his powerful vocals. The crowd were still feeling a little shy, spurring Christopher Panousakis to tell us to "come a little closer and close the gap, it's a Friday night", before launching into some hip-shakin' tunes.
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Panousakis' vocal range was impeccable; transitioning from falsetto highs to baritone lows with ease; producing soulful melodies that perfectly evoke the emotions hidden within his cryptic lyrics; complementing the earthy, rich tones of the accompaniment. Trying his hand at a song he didn't write, Panousakis and his band nailed their cover of Arctic Monkey's I Wanna Be Yours, which despite not being as sultry as the original, contained a killer guitar solo that made the cover shine. Following this was sombre track Fallen Sun, and a rework of the Flux EP's Seeker Song, which demonstrated Timberwolf's ability to write music that you can close your eyes and groove to. Then, harking back to Panousakis' humble beginnings, they played Garden, his first ever released track, which spoke about 'feeling close outside of home'. As requested, Into The Cold was played, getting the crowd involved to sing the 'ohhh's and 'hey!'s.
For the closer, Panousakis urged us to "shake our hips, kiss some people and shake our bums" to the danceable jam It Burns, which we obliged, leaving the venue feeling satisfied and impressed with the calibre of tonight's performances.