Live Review: David Le’aupepe + The Button Collective + Nothing Rhymes With David + Spencer Scott + Allison Gallagher – Black Wire Records, Sydney (31.01.16)

After the atrocious weather Sydney copped leading up to the weekend, it wasn’t shaping up to be the ideal time to hold an afternoon courtyard event. But come Sunday morning, the rain decided to play nice and blue skies and sunshine were welcomed, just in time for the crowds to start pouring into Sydney’s Black Wire Records for an afternoon of acoustic music and poetry.

With a line-up that featured some of Sydney’s finest talent, it was clear from early on in the afternoon that the courtyard was going to come pretty close to reaching capacity, which it did, selling out before the final acts grabbed a guitar and poured their soul out to a sea of wide-eyed music lovers.

The first act to take the stage was singer/songwriter Allison Gallagher, whose stunning and commanding vocals sailed out over Black Wire’s busying courtyard. Laid back and easy to listen to, this was the perfect way to kick off the afternoon.

Taking the spotlight next was Spencer Scott, who is no stranger to the stage after opening for the likes of Wil Wagner and The Dead Kennedys. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone appear to be so comfortable with just a guitar in hand. His distinctly unique voice, teamed with his overpowering Aussie accent perfectly complimented the leafy, backyard surroundings. For such a young musician, Scott proved how natural and pure his talent is.

Next up was the man of the day, David James Young of Nothing Rhymes With David, who was the mastermind behind the whole event and was launching his new album, Things Work Out For People Like You. Being described later in the day by David Le’aupepe as ‘one of the greatest guys in the world’, this man has such a presence and sincerity about him when he performs that it is impossible to take your eyes off him. Belting out tracks like “Sex, God and Katy Perry”, “Get Title”, “Change Slightly” and “Babies Hate Black Sabbath”, his flawless vocals never faltered, even when smashing out screams that could be heard from a street away. Each song was filled with honest and humble lyrics, with David entertaining the growing crowd with his sharp wit and a story behind the inspiration of each song. He had a way of making an intimate event seem even more intimate and personal, yet he would have just as easily been right at home on an arena stage.

The second album launch for the day came from The Button Collective, who were proudly showcasing their new release, The Lonesome Sea. I have listened to these guys a few times, but now that I have seen them live for the first time, I have a new found love for their sound. The energy they delivered was on another level, combining folk, blues and even a few subtle indie influences. There was a jovial essence that shone through for the entirety of their set and while playing tunes such as “Hall On The Hill” and “I’ll Never Hold Your Heart”, there were so many folk-y sounds that glued together, it was easy to forget you were smack bang in the middle of Sydney.

After three hours of music, which really only felt like an hour, David Le’aupepe of Gang Of Youths was the last performer of the night. It was a strange sight to see Le’aupepe on his own with just a guitar, even stranger when he exclaimed how nervous he was. On stage with his band, he has a towering, energetic presence, yet on his own with every set of eyes in the courtyard fixated on him, there was a sense of vulnerability that was exuded. Although, his dry and quick wit soon set in, interacting with the crown and sharing stories from his troubled past. Tackling a list of his band’s songs like “Magnolia”, “Restraint and Release” and “Poison Drum”, Le’aupepe also delivered stunning renditions of Ryan Adams’ “Be My Winding Wheel” and Peter Gabriel’s “Book of Love”.

To wind the night down, Spencer and the two David’s shared the stage for one last song, covering LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends”, which ended in a sing along with the sold out venue. I don’t think I’ve ever heard applause at an acoustic to be so loud as the one that roared after this song, which through the humble and painfully talented performers of the day, was truly deserved.