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My first introduction to Odette was through her song Watch Me Read You and, to put it plainly, it totally blew me away. Breaking out a few years after the slam poetry-renaissance through groups like Button Poetry consistently going viral, Odette’s music put a unique twist on modernising and reinventing this artform. Combining her virtuoso piano skills, her incredible poetic lyricism mixed in with classical music and modern influence, Odette has created a musical landscape that is uniquely her own. At least in the Australian music landscape. Her newest album ‘Herald’ represents this perfectly, with more synthesized pop tracks seeping through between songs with baroque-era influence. The record is a total compliment to everything Odette can create and a window into all her future potential as well. I could not wait to hear these beautifully constructed songs live.
I had never been to a concert at HOTA before. The only visits I had really had to this venue was for school Eisteddfod’s. It was interesting to see the venue used in a concert setting. I walked across the HOTA park past the lake. I could see all the city lights from Surfers Paradise nearby, the Q1 standing tall and bright over me. It was serene. I walked up the brightly lit stairs to wards the venue. I thought it would be more difficult to find, considering how large HOTA is. There was a small bar outside before entering the main staged area. Small tables were arranged with candles. I was expecting a standing gig, but was glad to see it would be a sit down performance. I wanted to get totally wrapped up in her performance and not miss any of the details or nuances. I wanted to soak up every inch of what she had to offer.
Pinkish Blu performed first. An excellent choice for a crowd warmer. They sound was lively and very indie-pop, mixing synthesized music with 90s rock influence. Like Australia’s answer to The 1975 if they had joined forces with Jimmy Eat World. It was hard to not immediately get up and dance to their tunes, but remained seated nonetheless. I could not take my eyes off of the band.
Egoism followed, opening with atmospheric sounds, adding to the serenity of the room and its surroundings. Everything turned to silence before the introduced themselves with a simple “Hey”. They performed as a 3-piece supported by backing tracks. The small size of the group didn’t stop their sound from being any less impressive, again totally enthralling the room. Their music had a real surf-rock feel, very similar to that of Sweater Curse. The two vocalists voices gelled together so beautifully. This was the first time I had heard this group, and I loved them. I did appreciate the unexpected cover of Lorde’s Ribs though. Their Australian accent and surf-rock sound really gave the song a more nostalgic feel, reminiscent of Australian youth. “We’re usually super pretentious like… we’ve got to play our own music! But we’re over that and we’ve grown up” they announced, before playing the cover. Their originals held equal weight. With songs like You, You and Lonely But Not Alone garnering just as much of the audiences’ attention.
“The next song I wrote about Olive. It’s about someone being really sad all the time and you want them to be happy. But their sadness is also kind of annoying” Announced Scout about the bands other member Olive.
As soon as the lights dimmed for Odette, the room drew to an instant hush. Forest-like atmosphere and wind noises began before she graced the stage, entering with a simple “Hello”. She began her set with slam-poetry track Feverbreak, an instantly enchanting opener. Her enthralling vocals shone through as she belted the final chorus. “Can I see you tonight?”. “It’s nice to be playing in front of real people, not just the little clay figures I made” she said, acknowledging the strange circumstances the music industry is facing right now. Herald followed, the most classically influenced song on the record, featuring arpeggiated organ throughout, juxtaposing the driving drum beat and synths. I was grateful I had my turtleneck to keep me warm, because I had chills all over! Collide from her album debut ‘To A Stranger’ followed, one of her most beloved tracks. Trial By Fire followed. I loved the way she worked the melody over the complex piano part. It was impressive in the recording, but so much more impressive heard live. She then kicked her band off the stage so she could play a solo version of Lotus Eaters, a personal favourite from her debut. She was graced by a single spotlight. She announced the song was written when she was just 16.
“This is one of the saddest songs I’ve ever written… I don’t know why I keep trying to make jokes before these really intense songs” she says while introducing Foghorn, acknowledging her laidback and comedic nature between her beautifully complex songs. The spotlight changes to a blue. She plays a beautiful piano solo before her band comes back and joins her on the stage, the drums heightening the emotion beautifully. “This song is dedicated to self-love and magpies” she says before launching into Amends, totally juxtaposing the mood of the song before. Her keyboardist plays a quick piano solo before launching into the recognisable opening notes to Watch Me Read You, instantly picked up on by the entire room. She follows this with Dwell, a more pop-centric feel then the rest. The song reminds me a lot of the work of Julia Michaels. She spun and danced across the stage – a joy to watch. “I was told not to do this by many people… but I’m very petty” she said before she played her version of ACDC’S Thunderstruck. She belted more and sang in a higher range than her original triple j Like A Version cover. “Asthmatics here tonight, this one’s for you!” she sung as she used her puffer to recover from the energetic performance she just gave.
“This is DEFINITELY the last song!” she said before breaking into What I Know Is Not Enough. “I wrote this song while I was in the states. I very much don’t like it there… I wrote it when I was a mess, a literal mess… it was a vibe” she said, explaining she wrote the song after a significant breakup. The lights turned red over her, just like the first album’s art. “I told you not to break my heart” she sings, putting all of her emotion behind her words. She left the stage and, of course, the crowd demanded an encore. “I’m so shy! Another one?” she said jokingly. She played lead single from her debut Take It To the Heart. Crowd members began to rise from their seats, dancing by their tables. “Alright THIS is the last song guys!” she said before singing second encore Mandible, the final song from the new album.
I left HOTA that night still feeling the serenity. Totally inspired by the musicians I had just been lucky enough to see. Grateful to have been able to see such a beautiful performance in such a beautiful part of the world. After such a harrowing last year for a situation we are not quite out of, I am thankful for Odette for connecting a room full of people, allowing a bit of escapism from the turmoil of the outside world.
With thanks to Hutch Collective