SAFIA @ THE CORNER

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Photo: CMJ

For the Sunday session of Safia (who has four sold out shows at the corner…beats me too), I roll in looking like a human-shaped piece of garbage after a massive Saturday night, wearing whatever the fuck my hangover-fogged brain could find at 3pm that day. As I am lucky enough to go to The Corner regularly, I always forget that a gig here is a special event for many and tonight in my delicate state, I can’t deal with the drunk, happy revellers acting like all their summer festivals have come at once.

However, my mate (the infamous Quang Do) hang back beer in hand and manage to enjoy Boo Seeka, the support act. These Queenslander boys work a smooth mix of folky vocals, driving guitars and subtle electronic elements. Throughout their set, they exhibit examples of many styles with elements of funk, 80s electro pop as well as more straight-up rock but a mash up of “Sweet Dreams” is my highlight.

Send hate mail at will but Safia’s set is more disappointing. They certainly aren’t rubbish but I am just not about it and I cannot fathom the insane levels of fandom from the crowd as they grace the stage. “Counting Sheep” opens to the delight of fans who probably only listened the Popular section on Safia’s Spotify. This track as well as other show Ben Woolner to be the true gem of this band with a soulful voice, an enviable range and masterful control.

The remix of “Tear It Down” by the Ashton Shuffle has a nice 80s feel but seems to lack the oomph of peers like Client Liaison. There is a lack of spark throughout the gig and I find a lot of the orchestration jolting and a bit simplistic. Safia does seems to owe a lot of their success to association with wonderkids of the Australian electronic scene such as the Ashton Shuffle and Peking Duk as well as the support of tastemakers, Triple J (who Woolner thanked twice).

[embedyt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWe3eEqwPPs[/embedyt]

Sorry to be (heaven forbid!), mainstream but the highlight of this gig is “Listen To Soul, Listen To Blues” which I had completely forgotten about since it was in the Hottest 100 in 2013. The vocal track is beautiful and the sparse backing really works for this tune, but I really wish they would drop the vaguely dubstep interlude. Remix anyone?

The new track is a surprise and thankfully continues the direction of “You Are The One” towards a more upbeat vibe that has an almost Scissor Sisters-esque sound. “Take Me Over” ends the set and is obviously adored perhaps a testament less to the popularity of the Canberra boys but to the empire of Peking Duk.

It is a surprise to me that Safia have been playing together since they are at school because they sound like they are still trying to work out their sound. The gig is disjointed with the vibe and sound of many of the tracks being out of step with the rest and this mix of energies is evident in the crowd.Perhaps it is the hit based culture that we are faced with is leading to less consistent repertoire but I hope that perhaps more work on the set list and a more serious consideration of their overall sound would lead to a better live show. Letting loose a bit can’t hurt either.

THE BREAKDOWN:

Hometown: Canberra, Australia.
Latest release: Embracing Me single, July 2015.
Sounds like: Miami Horror, Purity Ring, Disclosure
Say what? The name of the band comes from a song they wrote called “Sapphire.”

Stay Classy, Rosa

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