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OK Hotel Stay Bright Tour w/ Sesame Girl & Parklands 20/2/21

All photos by Zosia Francka

I’m happy to say I am now very well aquatinted with the UC campus. After unknowingly parking as far away as possible, I wandered across the University grounds until, with the help of maps, I arrived at The Well. This cosy oasis sits right in and around the new Uni developments and lodgings. Hosting a modest stage and PA system, this long narrow bar is perfect for local acts and touring bands. The last stop on their ‘Stay Bright Tour’ Ok Hotel were joined by Parklands & Sesame Girl.

Several things instantly struck me about Parklands when they began their set. A proficient and well practiced unit, Parklands delivered each song with apt confidence and spirit. The soaring vocals of front man Charles lead and danced around the washy phased out guitars. Releasing three singles in the previous year, their reggae tinged indie rock would fit in just as well on festival stage as it did the confines of The Well. The fragmenting arrangement of ‘Certain Extent’ gave light to the skilful and commanding musicality of each member. Their ability to keep each track groove-orientated made their set a fun and memorable experience. Parkland’s slower songs reminded me of something I might listen to while staring out a raining train window - you know the mood. Each song contained plenty of energy, the drums laying steady groundwork for the mellow driving bass lines. Their latest single ‘Retrograde’, evidently a crowd favourite, was taken charge by the crowd who happily sung along each word. There is much to look forward to with this band.

Taking to the stage just after 8pm, Sesame Girl once again highlighted their mastery in packaging sad themes into sweet, happy and memorable songs. The incredible vocal harmonies, often the focal point of their songs, sit above a layer of reverb and chorus heavy guitar. Sesame Girl eased through their opening tracks before inciting the crowds eager dancing with ‘Pavement’. Consisting of incredible musicians from other prominent bands and projects, Sesame Girl's supergroup status makes them even more enjoyable to watch. Yasmine took on lead vocals for a track before we, upon Sesame Girl’s request, were transported to the beach for ‘Hawaii’. Sesame Girl's beautifully melancholy vocals are counteracted by the melodic guitar lines and energetic drums that endure each track. Even self proclaimed sad song ‘Leave’ drifted into a washy anthemic chorus that had everyone swaying in unison. After alluding to it’s upcoming release, Sesame Girl finished the set with the insanely fun and catchy ‘Get Up’. Sesame Girl, it’s sad music you can be happy to.

Primed and eager, the audience waited patiently while Ok Hotel slung on their guitars, turned up their amps and tore into their opening track, 'Stars on the ceiling'. Reminiscent of 90’s alt rock (the Fender Jaguar era) Ok Hotel harness vintage fuzz tones to switch stirringly between their verses and big pop chorus’s. A nostalgic and affirming collection, Ok Hotel's 2020 release ‘Stay Bright’ earned them worthy praise and has seen playing headline shows all over the east coast. Before newly written song 'Get Out' OK Hotel played 'What A Lie’ and whether the audience had heard it before or not, everyone was singing along by the second chorus. Front man Josh gave some praise to Canberra, a quick shoutout to Mooseheads and before long we arrived at ‘Swim’. A clear crowd favourite, the crowds enthusiasm initiated the moshing that would continue the rest of the set. Another new song roared by before Ok Hotel unveiled, without a doubt, the heaviest Kelly Clarkson cover ever. Didn’t seem matter who you were, you were screaming the chorus to ’Since U Been Gone’. Before calling it a night Ok Hotel finished their set with ‘Life is Crazy (Like That)’ the perfect soundtrack for the momentous euphoria in the room. Clearly no one wanted the night to end and upon the call for an encore Ok Hotel unleashed another incredible pick, George Michael’s 80's earworm, ‘Last Christmas’. Up until that point I never thought I would want to hear a Christmas song anytime before December but that was truely the only exception. Of course 'Last Christmas' was delivered through the intense fuzz and stage presence Ok Hotel have become known for. Last weekend I gave Ok Hotel my heart.

500/500 metres parked away from the venue

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