Tucked away in a carpark between Sydney Road and the Upfield Line in Brunswick, you’ll find Howler, one of the best bandrooms in Melbourne. Seeing any gig here is pretty darn good, so I was very much looking forward to seeing local hero Ali Barter play her first hometown headline in a while, in support of her latest single ‘Ur A Piece Of Shit’.
She didn’t disappoint.
The friday night crowd was slow to fill the room but that didn’t stop support act Hannah Kate confidently delivering of her brand of full bodied garage pop. Baby Blue followed and brought the energy down slightly, but there was definitely no consequent lack of interest from the crowd. Their banter and interaction with the punters was cheeky and charming; a theme that would run on into the night.
Given Ali Barter has had a huge year enjoying national tours with the likes of The Peatures and Ball Park Music, a slew of national festival slots and recording a brand new album (that we can expect later in the year), a loyal hometown crowd welcomed her back like friends meeting you at the airport after a year abroad. They were super excited to have their old pal back, eager to listen to new stories and keen to have a boogie just like the old days.
The sense of community between the crowd and the band was nothing short of heartwarming. When a maybe otherwise awkward silence occurred while tuning, a fan in the crowd yelled, ‘You’re doing such a good job, Ali!’, followed by another few fans proclaiming their love. Not to mention, every time guitarist Alex Crosara took a blistering solo, everyone on his side of the room suddenly turned into Jack Black’s character in School of Rock, praising Zak Mooneyham for his face melting riffs. Adorable.
Backed by drummer Jen Sholakis (East Brunswick All Girls Choir, Jen Cloher), Ali’s band are all brilliant and highly impressive players. There were maybe some slight teething issues with the gelling of the band on their first live run. But that’s nothing that can’t be fixed by another few shows together. And it certainly did not take away from the audiences’ enjoyment.
The set structure was classic but effective: start big, chill in the middle, finish even bigger. We were treated to debut performances of some cracking new tracks off the forthcoming record. It was more of the catchy, heartfelt, sweet ’n’ sour pop rock that Ali does so well. But hey, if it ain’t broke…?
Songs like ‘Cigarette’, new single ‘Ur A Piece Of Shit’ and the forever rousing, crowd-pleasing closer ‘Girlie Bits’ were clear stand outs.
Ali also must be commended for her anti-encore stance. It’s so refreshing to see! Seriously musos (famous or otherwise), take a leaf out of the Barter Bible™: If you withhold your biggest song so people have to chant your name until you come back on so you can play said biggest song you were obviously going to play and the people who paid to see you want to hear, well there’s no other way to put it… UR A PIECE OF SHIT.
Brilliant songs, wonderful players, a happy audience, great venue and no unnecessary encores. It’s no wonder Ali Barter is slowly cementing herself as one of Australia’s very treasured songwriters.