Under Cover With Gen Fricker

15 February 2016 | 4:27 pm | Hannah Story

"We hope Giant Dwarf decide to pick this little night up for return seasons."

Giant Dwarf have revealed their latest night, Under Cover With Gen Fricker, three evenings this month where Australian musicians and comedians take to the stage to do exactly what the name implies — they play covers. They explain the covers, and then they play them, and it's wonderful.

It's a simple idea, and there was every possibility that if there wasn't a sense of openness in the room, and from the performers, that this wouldn't work. But it did — it really, really did. Our host Gen Fricker explains the evening where musicians and comedians "tell you about things" — "it never leaves this room" (sorry). If you're at all familiar with Fricker's stand-up, and that of Cameron James, one of our performers, you'll recognise some of the one-liners, but they don't feel tired, eliciting the desired chuckles. Fricker tells us about her experience as a mixed race woman caught between two cultures, before attempting to play Crowded House's Weather With You. She stops part-way after mucking up a note on the guitar — "[This night] is just stories and then attempts at songs," Fricker says.

She introduces Joyride, who tells us about his late grandmother, a woman with stories of her own whom Joyride describes as a "1930s Beyonce". "Fuck yeah grandma, get yours," he says, congratulating his grandma on her sexual freedom. Then he plays On The Street Where You Live, one of her favourites. Joyride has an easy way with a room, easily cracking jokes, and a lovely almost M Ward-like voice. Then it's time for comedian/musician Cameron James' excellent Daniel Johns' impression as he talks about growing up in Newcastle and accidentally meeting Luke Steele of The Sleeping Jackson when trying to track down Johns. He performs Silverchair's Tomorrow, complete with pitch-perfect vox and stage demeanour. It's hilarious.

Fricker returns after the break to tell us about her first time hosting alone on triple j — the night of the Sydney Siege, and the man who tried to send her dirty messages down the text line. She introduces Matt Okine, who talks about feeling low after Edinburgh Fringe in 2013 (plus jokes), and then performs his own version Heard 'Em Say rewritten for 2016, a politically charged, clever rap. Then it's time for tonight's headliner, Sarah Blasko, a self-described "serious, earnest person". She says she is uncomfortable being funny (although she is funny) or talking off the top of her head, and feels like she's trying stand-up, but her visible discomfort (her hands are shaking) only adds to her charm. She found it impossible to describe the song she chose, so she wrote a speech about her favourite song of all time, what she describes as the greatest love song, This Must Be The Place by Talking Heads. Everyone here is in awe of her, and that feeling only amplified when she begins to sing. Incredible.

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We hope Giant Dwarf decide to pick this little night up for return seasons.