The first thing you notice about Alex L’Estrange, young gun singer song-writer hailing from Brisbane, Queensland is the magnificent facial hair perched just above his upper lip, a fully blossomed and well rounded moustache curled at both ends. It was truly a sight to behold and just when you think you can’t be impressed any further, he opens his mouth with a voice that hits you right in the face – but somehow coupled with a calm demeanour that really makes you listen to his words. These are the jumbled mess of thoughts I was dealing with while settling into Mojo’s Bar in Fremantle last Sunday on the 6th of November 2016, about to enjoy some home grown sound waves to lessen the stress of a tired week and the weary one to come.
I’m brought back into the room when I hear L’Estrange cry out “Made my mother cry” multiple times over an array of sporadically changing and morphing guitar effects, which showed off some serious pedal knowledge that left me pleasantly surprised. The feels then came and went from spacey psychedelic to jangly-pop in a matter of seconds, with glimpses of grunge shown throughout. I felt like I was getting dropped in between a world of Mac Demarco, Oasis and early Bombay Bicycle Club… not a bad mix if you ask me. What you get from this cluster fuck of influences however, is a deep voice that echoes of melancholy but also an unwavering honesty and a brooding sense of reflection. L’Estrange is an engaging solo performer with an internal rhythm that is impressive to witness. If he’s this good by himself then I’d love to see him in a live band set up. ‘I Was In Red’ and ‘Tripwire’ jump out as immediate favourites. He reminded me a lot of the way home grown hero Jacob Diamond plays the electric guitar. This was an effortless performance capped off with a rendition of his most recent single ‘Mr. Mild’ that showed a continued awareness and understanding of one’s own voice and the instrument they possess.
Next on the bill was Perth’s own Dream Rimmy and if there is one thing you can say about this band is that they are very tight. Lead at the helm by George Foster on the drums; the unstoppable freight train behind the wall of sad surf rock and bopping insular stage presence that is Dream Rimmy. They seemed to be completely in sync with one another but less aware or willing to share with the audience and preferred not to break the fourth wall that the stage can sometimes provide performers with – except of course for Ali Flintoff; the band’s leading lady who bellowed out spacey vocals and a piercing gaze onto the audience, accompanied by punchy base and repetitive synth lines that didn’t seem to stray too far from the tree. I was less impressed with Dream Rimmy’s song writing, who boasted a massive six-person line up on stage, and after seeing what Alex L’Estrange did with just him and a guitar, this became abundantly clear.
Finally we come to the headliners of the evening, alt rockers Holy Holy. The Melbourne/Brisbane duo turned full band live set up are now touring their new single ‘Darwinism.’ After hearing them live, the best way I can describe their sound is if James Mercer from The Shins decided to front Band of Horses and take them in a strange and wonderful new direction. Oscar Dawson’s eclectic guitar driven platform provides the perfect backdrop and foundation for Tim Carroll’s narrative and melody to shine through. They are a fierce collaborative song-writing team that are well attune to constructing the skeleton of a song, necessary for a full band set up to truly sink their teeth into and build upon. The banter was great all round and most displayed a stimulating stage presence, but what was more impressive to see was the mutual respect that they had for their fellow performer. Whenever Dawson had a shining guitar solo Carroll would step to the side (half off stage) to give his mate the spot light.
There was also a charming honesty exhibited through out their set. For instance two songs in, Dawson jokes that he needs his set list because it’s his safety net with all of these specific annotations drawn on because he doesn’t know how to use his gear. This came as a surprise to me considering how hard this dude was shredding… refreshing modesty not often seen in live music culture today. It’s also an important step in debunking the traditional façade that we often see nowadays; that all musicians on stage need to be an expert and know exactly what they are doing. For all of these reasons and many more I think Holy Holy have a very bright future ahead of them. You can catch them as they tour the east coast of Australia for the remainder of November!