Active Child @ East Brunswick Club – 8/2/2012

Oh, the East Brunswick Club, how we will miss thee. Luckily I found my way to the soon to be defunct bar in time to see all the acts for the evening, starting off with a personal favourite – Oliver Tank. Despite having seen a similar set at his album launch not too long ago I was still really happy to see him play. Trying out “Dreams Of Fish And Waterfalls” – one of his songs that was not on the EP – and whipping out Snoop Dog’s “Beautiful” cover again it was great to see that the set had tightened up, with seamless transitions between the guitar and other instrumentation. The night was a long one so Tank was finished more than two hours before Active Child was set to go on stage, which meant that there were not many people watching as there should have been.

Caitlin Park were up next. At first I was really apprehensive about their performance; it seemed the female trio from Sydney were distant and could not care that they were on stage. I am still unsure if that was part of their stage persona or of they are very nervous artists. Their demeanour softened when they displayed a sense of humour with a cover of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song and the set picked up from there. Holly Austin – full time beat boxer, part time wind machine – made so many different noises on stage I could not even begin to catalogue all the blurts and whistles.  The drummer looked like she was going to walk off stage at any moment, if only that did not require effort.  

Hustling right up to the front with some mates with cider in hand, I waited eagerly to see Active Child for the second time within a few days. Whether front man Pat Grossi is on a stage at Laneway or sitting on the curb in the middle of a busy intersection his voice would still sound angelic but the more intimate setting really helped the gravitas of its beauty.  The L.A three piece got straight into “You Are All I See” to the delight of many going by the gasps of the crowd. Part of the novelty of the harp is Grossi himself, clearly different from what you would expect from a harpist, grooving and tapping away while plucking the strings with his eyes closed, while the bassist grounded the classical elements of the music. Shifting to the keyboard after three songs, Grossi looked to the crowd and asked me directly about the keyboard levels so we had a bit of friendly banter since I was right in front of him. Needless to say I was really chuffed. Despite being down tempo at times this type of music could easily turn to dance, thanks to Brennan Rhodes. If the talent of a drummer is based on the amount of sweat produced on stage then Rhodes was a fountain of finesse, spilling the beats all over in time to really turn potential dirges into something more uplifting. Hearing terms like ‘gospel’ and ‘R&B’ bandied around descriptively I have decided to deem Active Child as R ‘N’ G – soft enough to sit in silence pondering the lyrics but it can really get you going if it takes your fancy. Older tracks from the Curtis Lane EP were performed which was a nice surprise, ‘Take Shelter’ being one of the more memorable songs of the night.

The evening ended on a high, to the point that my friends and I were so elated that we were plotting to stalk the band by waiting outside for them. Alas, reality kicked in and we called it quits while we were ahead.
by Mason Smith

February 20th 2012
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