In anticipation of alternative indie rock singer-songwriter, Tyne-James Organ, the crowd are spread around the dance floor, holding drinks and engaged in casual conversation. Music scores the background and slowly fades as the lights go out.
STUMPS opens the stage with seasoned reverie. The lead singer, Kyle Fisher, picks up a hip flask from the floor and sips. He looks out to the crowd while grinning, “Kinda sneaky I know”, teasing the audience with larrikin-like antics and setting the tone for the night, welcoming wolf-whistles and animated cheers.
The band embraces a cheeky pop funk alternative sound while a girl standing to my right yells out towards me, “how groovy is this,” her hands moving up and down in time with the beat. Fisher yells, “We’re all gonna die so we might as well smile about it,” as the electric guitarist plays a fast riff. The room is electric, STUMPS speaking to the prime meridian of youth through conceits about the world caving in on us and misspent time.
The second act is magic and goodness personified. There is a radiance to ULA that is unmatched.
Finding a home on TikTok and known for busking on George Street, the pink haired, spunky artist saunters onto the stage with space buns and sunnies atop her head. Her song Conversations with The Gang is colourful, her angelic voice juxtaposing the pounding reverb of the drum beat which produces an anthem to scream out on late night highway drives.
Donning a black zip up jacket with matching dress shoes and chinos, Tyne-James Organ opens with Burning Desire, a soft introduction to his alternative rock soundscape, satisfying a desire to be both seen and understood.
This gentle temperament is a short calm before he jumps into Stranger, bringing an immediate zealousness brimming with saturday night fever and a striking compulsion to dance. Immediately drawn into his charismatic stage presence, suave 80s look and liberating dance moves, the crowd eagerly bounces off his energy and gives it all back in a heartbeat.
Picture Footloose meets Grease. Tyne-James Organ embodies the persona of a character who transcends timelines and is rife with effortless charm; it is captivating to watch in-person.
The crowd is raucous. Having started late (well past 10:30pm for an 8pm doors opening), swathed in between sweaty bodies, dancing side by side, I can only think, “by God, how I’ve missed live gigs”.
Honey puts drums, vocals, and a mixture of synth on the table, opening with a reassuring, “Honey don’t stress, everything was worth it.” Organ capitalises on blending fast guitar riffs into the deep timbre of his voice and finds a way to fit a vast number of words into one breath. The casual, endearing swagger is worn on him well, and eighties-inspired punk rock lyrics line the pages of Organ’s deft and brazen song writing.
Strictly on repeat are elegiac guitar riffs paired with a rocking bass line, presenting groovy tunes and melodies. Organ gives no warning for his gritty guitar hooks in Graceful and Not Ready for Love, with both titles deserving of comparison with the Springsteen era. The fade-out codas and backing tracks alert us to a fascinating blend of grit and off-beat vocals.
Organ takes us back to one of his first songs, Watch You Go, in stripped down form as he speaks on grievances of his past, family turmoil and lovelorn pain.
His deep-bellied voice echoes throughout the intimate venue, packaging forlorn misery and reluctant acceptance with, “heard you’re leaving so what are you taking?” — a question left unanswered.
A convincing and easy crowd pleaser, Tyne-James Organ ends with Sunday Suit, showing off his impressive vocals, crescendoing alongside the occasional guitar lick. Organ’s sound is one nestled among the likes of Gang of Youths, Catfish and the Bottlemen, and Alkaline. The bassline bleeds throughout the set and in-between the off-kilter plug-ins is an earnest storyteller, aching to dance away the pain.
A vanguard for a modern Australian alternative rock sound, Organ holds the floor with a magnetising charisma that keeps us suspended in time. His performance is sonically arresting, and his sound irreplicable. The rumbling baseline returns in the end, and the crowd surfs on the wave of his layered vocals. We are on a high, not nearly ready for the comedown. The night, after all, is still young.