On a rainy Saturday evening (12 December), stragglers (including yours truly) raced from parked cars or their Uber-style transport to NightQuarter Live to get out of the wet and join their music loving brethren already gathered inside, for a night with Ocean Alley.
Inside you are slapped in the face by a serious buzz and your mood is immediately elevated from the gloom of the outdoors by the excited chit chat of happy-faced punters with animated hands holding phones and bevvies.
Tonight, the good folks are gathered to witness Ocean Alley's second full house show on the. Sunshine Coast. From the comments I hear, a live show is not the only thing patrons are excited about.
Yes, it's a standing event – that's right! Hips and butts can be free from seats – it's time to once again wiggle and jiggle to the beats of live music on your feet. Technically not dancing or moshing, but it's close enough for most that feel rhythm on the inside.
Support act is Seaside. This four-piece indie-pop band entertained the punters from a mood-lit stage with their set of dreamy-pop rock numbers.
Seaside - image © Clea-marie Thorne
Seaside obviously had a fan base in attendance as there were many in the crowd raising a hand to emphasise the lyrics as they sang-along with frontwoman Dexter.
At the end of their set some punters told me they already loved Seaside singles 'Sycamore' and 'Dopamine', and would be checking out more of their stuff after seeing them for the first time tonight.Click for more photos from the show.
Intermission is over. The stage lights up like a Christmas tree and the digital backdrop jumps to life to display changing images including from the group's album artwork. Keeping to the moody atmosphere, a fog machine pumps thick fog on to the stage and in front of the crowd throughout the show.
Taking the stage in casual dress and a similar swagger is the well-oiled six-piece Ocean Alley. For those unfamiliar with the sound of Ocean Alley, it's more of a style evolved from a fusion of genres.
Ocean Alley create recipes with psychedelic roll, indie-roots rock and reggae-spirited fusions. Each song has a particular genre essence, yet carries a hint of flavour or gives an after-taste of other genres, which is particularly noticeable on their latest and third studio album 'Lonely Diamond'.
Tonight's appetiser by Ocean Alley is wolfed down by the hungry crowd – 'Tombstone', the first of ten tracks played from this album; the set list will include 'Infinity', 'Up In There', 'Stained Glass', 'Lonely Diamond', 'Wet Dreams' and 'Hot Chicken'.
Ocean Alley - image © Clea-marie Thorne
While more of a groover than an overly bouncy and energetic frontman, Baden Donegal does conjure up the moves when the style of song warrants it, but for the crowd, he gets bonus points for his frequent personal interaction with them during the night – the punters just love it and he is one chill dude.
Their second song is 'The Comedown' from their second studio album 'Chiaroscuro' – although unrelated in message, the lyrics "...put my feet on the ground, the ground, the ground, again..." had some patrons pointing to their feet and giving the thumbs up while they sang the words; yes, yes we are doing this.
'Overgrown', a banger from the same album, steps it up a notch with its thumping groove and hooks. The rhythms of Tom O'Brien and Nic Blom keep the band on it. The finesse on keys and vocal harmonies from Lachlan Galbraith really round out the sounds of this six-piece and enhance Donegal's soulful vocals perfectly – so glad Donegal went the way of music and not footy, that voice box may have been damaged.
'Happy Sad' and their bold number 'Confidence' also get served up to the crowd during the set along with the trippy, reggae vibe of an earlier song 'Yellow Mellow' – the title track of their 'Yellow Mellow' EP.
Ocean Alley - image © Clea-marie Thorne
This one got the reggae feels in the hips of many a punter. After taking the swinging and rolling crowd along a dusty desert road with 'Puesta de Sol', they played the big crowd favourite also from the 'Lonely Diamond' album, 'Way Down'.
Many among the crowd thought this would be the last song of the evening, so used their unspent energy to belt out the words with the loudest voices I heard all night – they really let it rip.
Sure enough, the song ended and the band exited from stage. Although it could very well have been a great song to end the night with, the crowd still chanted for their dessert.
Image © Clea-marie Thorne
The punters order was taken and shortly after, the band entranced the crowd with my favourite instrumental track, 'Luna' – guitar, guitar, guitar. I find this piece particularly haunting and beautifully composed, and belonging on the soundtrack to an old Sergio Leone film.
The finale came by way of 'Knees' and punters were swaying and singing along with this simple and summery tune. Maybe the punters are singing for their supper now? Alas, the show concludes with this song however, smiles are still worn and there is still a good level of buzz in the air.
All in all, it was a fantastic journey of tracks given to us by a bunch of talented Aussie musicians.
This has to be the most 'normal' live music experience I've had this side of the pandemic. I am left with the afterglow that only live music interaction can give and a smile that is as wide as the ocean tonight.