Jack Grace @ 107 Projects, Redfern 

On Saturday the 9th of June, singer-songwriter/pianist Jack Grace supported by Lupa J and Elkkle all performed at 107 Projects at Redfern, Sydney.  I can now say with all confidence, I am a newly converted fan all three artists in different ways and would certainly return to the venue for other gigs/creative events. Speaking of which, 107 projects is a 5-minute walk for Redfern station and is a hub of creative energy. 

 Up first was Elkkle (formally named Callum Baker); he welcomed a crowd of twenty people sparsely placed around the ‘performance space’ and achieved what good first acts do – warm up the crowd and set the standard. When Elkkle receded in towards his instruments, the crowd leaned in, taking in his complex emotional songs. He covered a Radiohead song which made me feel like my energy was being zapped in the best way possible. At this juncture, I gained a view of the ‘stage’. He had a mini keyboard synth and a microphone on a stand in what I can describe as a very stripped back functional setup. To the same point, the artist stood level with the fans, wearing the same (yet unique attire) of the expressive collective who watched on. When Elkkle jumped outwards, the crowd danced along to his experimental electronic originals. Even mentioning one of the tracks he performed will be available on Spotify soon. With the return of energy, came some overly enthused participants leading to Elkkle giggling and then returning his concentration to the song’s words. It was a very personal, defining how live music can transform an act. 

In the intermission, I got the chance to glance at the ‘gallery’. It featured a thematic collection of aboriginal art, with a heavy focus on the microscopic. In this instance, I’ll let the photos do the talking.   

Unlike larger concert halls (stadiums, for example), Lupa J and her musical counterparts could be found in the crowd prior to them being on stage. In terms of fan interaction, this tiny venue has the upper hand. Lupa J, formally named Imogen Jones, is a songwriter who possesses the ability to sing vocals, play violin and produce electronic music (albeit almost at the same time) who was helped out by a drummer and fellow string player. The bands composition and chemistry lead to a very layered sound. To compound this fact, Lupa J began dual wielding microphones: one was clean vocals, the other was for echoing or looping in communication with the loop pedal on the floor. At this moment, I managed to catch more of a glimpse at the bare bones construction, as the loop pedal and all the sound equipment lay atop a red pattern rug.  

Such is the nature of small gigs and no sooner did they fall victim to this quick assembly – the drum feed overpowered all other elements, distorting the quality. Just alike a sports injury, fans commended the players for their performance thus far and patiently waited for support to rectify the issue. Once fixed, Lupa J lost no confidence in belting out her abstract creations above the drum’s beat. And once more, the crowd and I reveled in her efficient timing in swapping instruments in and out of songs. By the end of the set, I learnt first-hand that the violin can be strummed like a guitar.  

My second intermission was more of a water break to really take in the first two explosive acts. I had an expectation that Jack’s songs would of less intensity and therefore I took a more chilled out approach in re-entering the ‘performance space’

The headliner, Jack Grace (Britten) was as relaxed as I had anticipated. He wore a comfy tracksuit and was seated behind a piano and microphone for the duration of the show. As I mentioned before about artists setting a standard, the tranquil participants including myself, sat as well. Thin vertical lights were evenly placed behind him to suit the mood. The crowd’s anticipation built nicely until which, Jack graced us with his slow but progressive anthem “downstate”. Jack’s calm approach left him to effortlessly slip between lower and higher pitched notes. Although it couldn’t soothe a baby yelps who had been brought in with a mother who was attending too. Talk about tiny venues pros and cons, am I right? And like the two previous artists, Jack Grace overcame the distraction to deliver more tunes off his EP, ‘If I Tremble’. Holding the audience on his every stroke of the piano keys and elongated lyrics, the culmination of his efforts led to his best live song, which would have to be “row me home”. One thing I did notice is that his live performance features more realistic elements, whereas the EP has trademarks of electronic sampling such as “ALOHP”. Both work to fit the occasions they arise in. The vinyl pressing of ‘If I Tremble’ laid at the entrance, enticing all fans of minimalism (referring both to the cover art and the sound) to get the maximum out of the gig. Getting back to the entertainment side of things, I feel like Jack Grace deserved a cathedral to hold his concert, but his congregation congratulated him nonetheless.