Saturday, 24 May 2014

Gig Review - Dustin Tebbutt

Live @ Northcote Social Club, Melbourne (15/05/2014)
Supported by The Tambourine Girls
Review by Lou Endicott

There is something of a happening flowing through indie music of late. It’s not hard to notice a genre taking shape as I collect playlist upon playlist of beautiful music that has transcended the notion of traditional folk/acoustic and delved into a more hybrid form of dream pop. I would perhaps call this the age of the Bedroom Bard. Or Hybrid Folk. Or Dream Philoso-rock. But then again, I just love naming things.

Genre names aside, what this style of music seems to include is philosophical and introspective lyrics, melodic sensibilities, gentle vocals (often with a high vocal range), slightly melancholic but achingly beautiful acoustic instruments and a mix of electronic soundscapes that could easily accompany one of those sun soaked happy dreams that are hard to wake up from. This music is finding its way into the ears and ultimately hearts of listeners in a big way.

I recently reviewed the talented Hayden Calnin and Eliza Hull who fit well into this genre. I have tickets bought for Icelandic musician, Asgeir. It seems that I can’t get enough of this introspective sound – and I’m not the only one.

I recently heard the song 'Bones' by Australian artist Dustin Tebbutt played on the radio while working in my office. I stopped what I was doing and let myself be set awash in the beautiful falsetto dream world that he created. Straight after listening I jumped online to research just who Dustin Tebbutt was and whether he might be playing live anytime soon. He has spent time living in Scandinavia, and won the attention of Triple J through Unearthed (and even earning a nomination for Artist of the Year). To my joy, I found that Tebbutt had just announced a live show at The Northcote Social Club. In a matter of minutes I had sent links to two friends who I knew would love Tebbutt’s sound and then booked tickets for us all. Lucky we did, as the first gig in Melbourne had sold out and we got the last few tickets for the second by-demand show.

The evening opened with a solo guitar player who told us he was Simon from the Tambourine Girls. I heard half of his set and enjoyed his Dylan-esque style of songwriting as well as a similar scoop in his voice. Simon told us that this was his second gig ever. I wouldn’t have known if he hadn’t have told us. I would like to hear his songs played with his full band to hear the whole texture of his work.

Tebbutt was a little late schedule wise. Perhaps this was due to setting the scene for the performance. A crew of people came and set the stage for the gig by hanging beautiful flickering lanterns along the front and back of the stage. The ambience was set for a very chilled performance. No one seemed to mind the wait. Or perhaps this is the demographic of audience members who are attracted to this kind of music - introspective and perhaps a little shy. The very respectful and somewhat quiet audience welcomed Tebbutt to the stage with some polite yet warm and encouraging claps.

The first number started with dreamy waves of ambient synth before fading into the acoustic guitar. It was such a soft and gentle beginning – just two haunting chords and those oh-so-beautiful delicate vocals that Dustin possesses. The ambient drums mixed with a swirly guitar somehow then took the song into a new gear and lifted the sound into the air as the synth and the bass provided the ground beneath.

Around here I noticed that the backdrop was a painted mountain scene – with snow capped peaks. This wintery, natural scene almost is the visual counterpart to the sound that Dustin Tebbutt makes. Artists like Sigur Ros and Asgeir seemed to hold that other wintery world feel that speaks to warm the heart and hold hope for a distant spring.

Next up a guitar was switched with some open tuning and a slower kick in rhythm set in by the capable drummer. The set was hooked up to a laptop to help provided the synthy fills that really bring that dream element to Tebbutt’s world so well. The digital effects however never overtook the intent or the gentle heart warm that the songs provided in their acoustic instrumentation and in Tebbutt’s voice. After the second song Dustin thanked the audience for coming and for our quiet engagement. He did this in such a grateful and humble manner that I felt we could have been sitting in his living room.

The high falsetto voice of Tebbutt that reminds me so much of Bon Iver took us into the next song accompanied by just an acoustic guitar. The drums then expertly laid the landscape with carefully selected thumps and tambourine hits. I imagined riding in a train through cold and icy landscapes. Warming yet thrilling to see a white out outside the comfort of my own introspective little cabin.

After this song Tebbut joked, “Just so you know, I’m generally an upbeat guy. Particularly after one coffee. Before that I’m an arsehole. My songs are sad. But don’t expect me to be the sad guy. Because I’m not.” For me personally, I wouldn’t say that these songs make me sad. They leave me thoughtful and perhaps a little inward searching. I was glad to hear that Tebbutt himself knows that behind these gorgeous tunes is a life worth living. The hope is hard to miss in all of his songs. I suppose that this shines from the artist himself and flows through into the music.

For me the highlight of the evening was the single 'Bones'. I only saw the film clip a few hours before the gig. It was lovely to hear the back story. The clip was filmed at the last minute. In Sweden. Tebbutt is singing in the snow (which I think totally captures the wintry essence of his sound). 'Bones' was filmed in double speed to add to the dream quality of the clip. Hearing this played live was a joy – and just as good as the recording – if not even a little better.

The other highlight of the set was a song my housemate (who came with me) adored. The song 'Breach' was a single from Tebbutt’s last EP. It’s a gentle and addictive guitar little gem that has a gorgeous and lilting vocal line that leaves me all a-sigh. The hypnotic beat underneath make this song a standout in his repertoire. And Dustin and his band obviously love playing it live. The crowd had a gentle sway and head nod dance going on during this song.

The evening ended with another lovely track accompanied by a rousing shaker to perhaps provide us all with a little movement to wake us all out of our little warm cabins and send us back into the night homeward bound.

Dustin Tebbutt’s music is good for a big breathe out against the hustle and stress of the modern world. It’s music to lie on the floor to, or find a patch of sun to warm your skin on a cold day. I look forward to hearing a whole album from Dustin Tebbutt and I would love to see him play live again. If you like me you are loving this new Philoso-rock (said it again, just in case it catches on….) then grab a copy of the Bones EP or the earlier EP, The Breach and let all your cares go.

1 comment:

  1. Lou! Why didn't you take me??? I love him!! If he plays again I am there! I need to be more aware, it sounds like I missed an amazing gig.


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