Brighton Up Bar is fast becoming one of my favourite local music haunts of late. It’s only a small room probably the size of someone’s lounge room, but don’t let the size put you off, because the quality of live acts that are playing the joint are frankly of the same calibre as much bigger venues. Friday night's artists were a stellar cast of bedroom philosophers, poets and muses.
The night began with Alexander Biggs. Hailing from Melbourne this was the musician's first taste of a Sydney audience. Awkwardly charming, Alexander delighted the audience with tales of love and loss while strumming his way into the hearts of the audience. Reminiscent of such artists as Jeff Buckley and Elliott Smith, there is a sorrowful beauty and honesty to his lyrics. Playing some of his more known tracks (thanks to triple J), “The Worst We’ve Ever Been” pairs soft vocals with a simple strumming pattern that lulls you into the rambling thoughts of a young mans subconscious. “Tidal Wave” deals with the universal feeling of loss weather that is relationship or family. The distance that their memory creates and the void left that aches to be filled. I found at times Alexander could be self-deprecating and almost too modest. There is nothing ordinary about the talent Alexander harbors.
Next up was newcomer Elki who blew away the audience with her funk infused electro pop songs. The first thing you notice about Elki is that she demands your attention, and with the opening number “Sirens” she had everyone in the room in the palm of her hand. Inspired by the 1981 neo-noir erotic thriller Body Heat, the pared back intimate verses were written to contrast with the explosive and powerful declaration of power and guilt in the chorus.
Another standout track was “Thunder” which after only two months of play on Soundcloud already has 40,000 listens. Beginning with a quirky glockenspiel sounding tic, we were suspended in time as Elki pondered the thought of “If only she could make thunder” before building in both her thoughts and beats they pick up at lighting speed before crashing into a chorus in which she asks, “What do you want from me?" There is a huge Kate Bush influence to Elki’s tunes, with both being very eclectic and experimental in their music. I can sense there is a lot more for us to learn about this young artist.
The night though, was all about Ayla. The Sunshine Coast singer/songwriter has just released a new single “Like The Other Kids." One of the first things I noticed is just how young Ayla is, but don’t mistake her limited time on earth as any reflection on just how talented and professional this young lady is. With great confidence Ayla didn’t waste anytime strapping on her guitar and got stuck straight into playing, opening up with popular track “Waiting”, which is a prime example of the pure force of this woman’s voice as it soared to great heights.
When Ayla played her latest single, she decided to put aside the guitar. I loved seeing this side to her as she seems like such a free spirit. Without the weight of the guitar to hold her down Ayla sang with arms out stretched, swaying from side to side she and let her own music flow through her veins. With a wide smile plastered on her face, you could feel the joy she feels when performing as it radiated throughout the room. My favourite tune of the night was her closing song “Wish I Was”. It's a song driven by a tub thumping bass drum, like a warrior call as Ayla defiantly sings “I'm not out of a line but I wish I was/I'd be out of my mind with a simple push/And I'm ready to fall/To break free of these walls." She’s here to stand her ground, she will not budge.
Watching Ayla perform you can see why she’s been so successful. Its simple, her music shines just as brightly as she does, warming the hearts of those who are willing to lend their ears.