The evening was welcomed by colourful Melbourne musician Vance Joy. His adorable curly hair, along with the pitter-pat of his acoustic guitar created such an inviting atmosphere, most of the crowd would have happily watched him all night.

A delicate cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” added some extra charm to his already smooth set, but it was the moment that his ukulele reached his hands that the crowd really settled into his solo performance.

“Riptide” was overflowing with vibrant and colourful lyrics, and along with his laid back persona, he was an absolute pleasure to see live.

I, A Man took to the stage with a thumping double drum number, with the rhythm section creating a thrilling surge of power behind the two guitarists strumming along out front. The booming drum work built energy and suspense as it climaxed later in the song, powdered by strong vocals and steady guitar parts.

Their next track teased the crowd with a long introduction, similar to the likes of Death Cab For Cutie’s “I Will Possess Your Heart”. It really gave the audience a glimpse of how talented the group is, and their compatibility as a team. After a short and entertaining set, the four boys stepped off stage.

“Thank you for not going to see Mumford and Sons tonight”, teased Hayden Calnin as he organized himself on stage. Everyone in the room would have also thanked themselves for opting to see this brilliantly pensive performer. Throughout his entire set, the crowd was deadly silent, enticed by his presence.

Nowadays, every upcoming band or artist seems to dabble in any electronic substitute for instruments, to give their sound a fresh kick. Normally this sound is quite predictable in new acts, however Calnin has blown all competition out of the water with his experimental looping techniques, really nailing the effects and giving it a haunting twist.

Calnin and his invisible band of looping vocals and instruments began with “Winter” followed by the next track “Summer”, both from his EP City. His performance of “Summer” in particular was a wonderful example of how looping his vocals can summon a chill up your arms, a kind of eerie shock when you hear how amazing his voice sounds as an instrument.

His band of three join him on and off throughout the set, and along with a $50 Casio keyboard “from the Red Hill Op Shop”, the foursome intertwine each other’s soft sounds – resulting in some really powerful music. Individually, each instrument is calm and soothing, such as the drums, but each played together is intense and emotional, resulting in a silent audience hanging on to every note.

Fan favourite “For My Help” was a big hit with the cosy crowd. Calnin’s dorky but very charming nature had them giggling along with little jokes about “how to make a tissue dance”, and laughing about the other band members “going to get drunk – their work is done!”

The crowd was at the peak of their enjoyment when Calnin finished with a beautiful a capella piece. A tad nervous at using only his voice, his confidence surely soared as soon as he sang the first note, and the venue became still.

Carrying strong resemblances to the likes of Bon Iver, Damien Rice, and Peter Silberman from The Antlers, it is pretty clear that this particular singer/songwriter’s music will be widely enjoyed.

Get unlimited access to the coverage that shapes our culture.
to Rolling Stone magazine
to Rolling Stone magazine