I don’t want to waste your time talking about venues but The Garden Party is a fantastic set up, transforming a disused block behind the VCA into what amounts to a mini-music festival in which you get a full set rather than abbreviated hits. Basking in twilight as well selected bands ply their trade with a cup of beer in hand is a rare joy on a Friday night, I can only hope it returns each year.
All reports were very positive for opening act Melodie Nelson, who I missed due to work – fun guitar lines, angelic vocals, great lipstick and good haircuts – will have to make sure to see her next gig. Courtney Barnett and her outfit put down a quintessential ‘90s grunge vibe, playing her jangly guitar at a height somewhere between Paul McCartney and Tom Morrello, she’s at home out front, rock-solid, especially her solo song.
Jens Lekman would be the end result of Michel Gondry trying to create a rock star. He is hand drawn and heartfelt, with the relaxed oddness that Scandinavians sometimes have. He plays air xylophones in time with the backing sample to finish a song, he hits himself while singing “stop hitting yourself.” It would be self-consciously quirky if he wasn’t so endearing. This shines through in his songwriting too, he is a storyteller, delicate and so personal, wringing emotion from mundane daily details. He tells charming stories in place of banter to introduce songs, like stalking Kirsten Dunst or catching up with a pen pal in Germany, Nina. His songs play his self-deprecations right to the hilt but there’s a hidden current of egotism running through Jens too. He slyly comments at the end of that song, “That was beautiful,” or in explaining that he would have got married to stay in Melbourne but decided against it because then he couldn’t write a song about it.
He opens with Become Someone Else’s, I Know What Love Isn’t and The End of the World is Bigger than Love before trying a terrific new song, which I am calling Golden Key, which surged into The Opposite of Hallelujah, much to the delight of the crowd. And so the set progressed, working his way though the back catalogue, his lyrics constantly name check Melbourne living, Bev and Mick’s backpackers, Edinburgh Gardens. Listening, we all pat ourselves on the back for living in a city cool enough to capture the heart of this foreign troubadour. I had a Lucksmiths shaped hole in my heart requiring songs with local experiences that has now been stuffed full with Jens. After a glorious and heart-warming evening, the band retook the stage for Arms Around Me and Nina I Can’t Be Your Boyfriend, followed by a second Jens only encore And I Remember Every Kiss. The bands, the venue, the evening was a true joy. Every punter left smiling with Jen’s concerned last words, “Take cares of yourselves” ringing in our ears.
BY JACK FRANKLIN
LOVED: The complete experience.
HATED: Being told I was “perfect girlfriend height” and drink tickets – just let us by drinks, we are adults.
DRANK: Disposable plastic cups of Matilda Bay IGP.