words: Maddie Vlismis // photos: Rick Clifford (@rcstills)
“I feel like I’ve been transported back to the 70s, but somehow the drinks are still ridiculously priced.”
Jane Fonda’s voice is vibrating through the speakers, stepping the crowd through a 20 minute home workout and a 6-piece group dressed head-to-toe in tennis outfits are stretching onstage.
Meet Alfalfa, an electro-soul group who hail from Adelaide and Byron Bay. Their kitschy aesthetic reminds me of Brisbane group, Confidence Man, but their sound and stage presence are a lot more complex and layered. It’s super fun from the get go and the audience is vibing hard for a Monday night.
I imagine that the number of people in the crowd who knew about this band before arriving is minimal but the audience have taken the group under their collective wings and are having a ball. “This song has a lot of claps,” they warn us before launching into another harmony-filled number.
It’s 10 minutes before Parcels are set to take the stage and an Abba song starts to playing, creating an overly-excited choral rendition of ‘Gimme, Gimme, Gimme’ by the audience. Whoever created the pre-show playlist is a mastermind and deserves a raise.
Byron boys, Parcels take the stage much to the delight of the audience and immediately strike up ‘Comedown’, the unofficial soundtrack of my commute for the past year and the title track of their self-titled album. The crisp guitar melodies have me (and everyone else) boogy-ing from the get go. We’re all here for a groove and have been practising our best renditions of our dad’s dance moves that he whipped out after too much punch on Christmas day. After being low-key obsessed with this band for the past year, I notice for the first time that the lead singer looks astonishingly like my older brother, just with a much better moustache (don’t tell him I said that). I don’t know how to feel about this, but the thought is forgotten when they launch straight into ‘Lightenup’.
Another thing I missed from all the album’s rotations on my Spotify: these dudes absolutely froth a cow bell and it is glorious. Their overall sound is somewhere between The Bee Gees, Nile Rogers and Daft Punk. While disco has been weaving its way into all sorts of modern genres as of late, I really can’t think of anyone that does it as wholeheartedly as Parcels does. They really are in a league of their own.
The place mellows out for a hot minute for ‘Withorwithout’ and I take notice of the people around me. The venue is a zoo of collared, patterned shirts, littered with the occasional dude in white pants and I’m into the whole vibe big time. I feel like I’ve been transported back to the 70s, but somehow the drinks are still ridiculously priced.
Ripping straight into an instrumental track, it’s easy to see the influence of living in Berlin for the past four years has had as the funky guitar melodies take on a more synth-heavy dance vibe that builds and builds. Although I love their lyric-less songs just as much as their well-known hits, I had no idea that everyone else appreciated them too. It’s beyond rare to hear songs like these played live and it’s so refreshing to be able to devote every ounce of brain and ear power to focusing on the music.
Parcels play a few other crowd favourites from the album including a stripped back version of ‘Bemyself’ as well as singles “Older’ and ‘Tieduprightnow’. “The minute I was thinking to hold you back, the moment I was wishing- it’s overnight,” crow the boys in sweet, sweet harmony. There’s sweat dripping onto the dance floor (a safety hazard perhaps) and the energy levels aren’t dropping one bit despite the show’s fast-approaching ending. If there was ever an audience that lives for music and a solid boogy session it’s these guys right here.
Of course you would imagine a creative band like Parcels would do something funky to end the night on, but they’d already played their entire catalogue of songs so I’m fresh out of ideas at this stage. The band start up ‘’IknowhowIfeel’, and the front-man Jules Crommelin thanks us for an incredible show, saying “this song’s a sad one, but we’re going to have fun with it,”. Then, with no more warning than a wave and a bow, the pianist steps offstage. They play a few more bars and then the bass player is putting down his bass, giving us a wave and walking off stage too. One after another, the band members put down their instruments and head into the wings, leaving the song to carry on by itself until it’s just drummer Anatole Serret carrying the tune before he departs the stage too. Hands down the coolest ending to a gig I’ve ever witnessed. I feel like an audience member at a live taping of a family sitcom in the 70s and we’re all waiting with baited breath until the show’s next episode. One for the record books indeed.