It is always great seeing artists you’ve followed for a while finally receive the recognition and sold out venues their skills deserve. In this instance, it was the brilliant Gordi who got to sell out a hometown (sort of) show and show off to the Oxford Art Factory crowd just why she’s been copping a heap of buzz worldwide.
Opening up the night was Danny Barwick. Having never heard of him prior to the show, if I had to draw any comparisons to help build a picture it would be along the lines of early Chet Faker and Boo Seeka, all with the added sass of a Saxophone. And while it took me a little bit to get excited about the three piece (Keys, Sax, Guitar), by the end of the set you could definitely tell he knew what he was doing.
Having seen Gordi twice prior to the show, I knew what she was all about: Brooding and honest tales of love, loss, heartache and hope. One thing I didn’t know was that she was a great runner. I’m like 97% sure Gordi (or Sophie Payten, as her license probably says) ran past me as I made my way up the side streets of the venue. And if it wasn’t, she has a doppelganger that looks 97% like her living in Sydney.
Opening the night with the atmospheric “Aeon”, Gordi took the unexpected path of starting the set in a side display room of the Oxford Art Factory. I’ve probably been to the OAF 25 times and have never seen a band do that before, so kudos to Gordi for trying the unorthodox. Moving into early favourite “Wanting”, there was an audible gasp from the girl to my immediate right, followed by a ‘this is my favourite’ to her friend. With the track filled out with an acoustic guitar, bass, drums, trumpet and saxophone, “Wanting” once again reminded me of why I love Gordi.
Taking the time to explain how good it is to play to an Australian crowd after being overseas and dealing with some weird units of Europe, she quickly moved into “Nothing As It Seems” from her debut EP, Clever Disguise.
As she began “Bitter End” (from her 2017 debut album Reservoir), it became apparent she had total and utter control over the crowd. There was no talking, no singing, no ‘play The Horses’ chat from the punters. They were all there to see Gordi smash her set as she cast a spell over the crowd; and I couldn’t have been more stoked for her.
Before beginning “I’m Done”, she explained that her name translates to ‘Fat Baby’ in Spanish, so it was good not to be laughed at when introducing herself to the crowd. (A quick Google translate all but confirms what she said). Performing “I’m Done” acoustically provided an early highlight from the set. Making note that she was overseas when the Same-Sex Marriage poll came through, she played an almost perfect version of the Courtney Barnett track “Avant Gardener”. As someone who is neither here nor there on his opinion of Barnett, I can definitely confirm how smart a track “Avant Gardener” truly is.
With the middle of the set comprising of the Bon Iver clone “Heaven I Know” and “Myriad”, a true stand out moment from the set came in the form of current single, “All The Light We Cannot See”. There’s a definite power to the song. Not in a ‘I’m going to deadlift 400kg,’ power sense, but a ‘Holy shit, this is majestic and ethereal as,’ sense. There was something I really enjoyed about the track. It could have been the lyrics, music, lighting or general aesthetics of the night, but either way, it was bloody great.
Closing out the main set with “So Here We Are” and a track that will make my top ten at year’s end, “On My Side”, Gordi asked (hoped) the crowd would buy $110 worth of merch to cover the cost of a parking ticket she copped while sound-checking earlier. Having once overstayed my ticket by 13 minutes in what probably could have been the same street and receiving the same fine, I could definitely empathise with the whole situation. This could also maybe explain why she (or her doppelganger) ran past me two hours earlier.
Returning to the stage after the briefest of breaks for a two-track encore, she closed out the night with absolute fan favourite “Can We Work It Out”; a track that deservedly earns its place on both her debut EP and LP.
Thanking the crowd once more, Gordi and band left the Oxford Art Factory full of love, loss, heartache and hope. I’m glad I got to see her sell the venue out. Here’s hoping next time I see her it will be in an even bigger venue.
The reviewer attended this show on November 30th.