– by Hannah Nissen
When I first heard the name Art of Sleeping earlier this year, I was pretty much just sold, then and there. They had me at sleeping, really. It was real talk, I could relate. But as I started uncovering more of the hooks and lyrics to their immersive songs, I really had no idea just how much poignancy their songs would evoke, and continue to evoke. On the brink of their second album Shake Shiver, being released this July, they offered Perth fans two shows last week, despite their publicity’s hesitation towards any unnecessary expenditure. I was lucky enough to catch the festivities of their infectious energy last Thursday at Mojo’s in Fremantle. With support from Jesse Davidson and Bedouin Sea, the night felt not so much a gig as it did a glimpse into a perfectly executed, stumbled upon jam sesh, and in the fitting laid-back venue, it was the perfect kick-off to their Western Australian leg of the national tour.
Jesse Davidson, who I must admit I hadn’t heard of before the announcement of the tour, seemed to storm the stage and seamlessly commandeer it with his catchy hooks and aromatic vocals. Despite being freshly 19 years of age, and one year out of high school, this Adeleidean dreamboat performed last Thursday night with such a dignified tenacity. Having just released his debut EP Oceans, Davidson rocked out as though it was second nature, all the while wearing no shoes and nanna specs. Revamping traditional jazzy undertones into an enthralling fusion of indie-festival-rock-bonanza-beats, the set highlighted his vast control and range and instantly drew the crowd with this transmittable warmth that seemed to cancel out the dreary dripping clouds outside.
Davidson’s charming rendition of Elvis Presley’s ‘Love Me’ encompassed contemporary-indie energy on the refrain with a jazz-blues vibrato twist. His exuberance amplified the way his little glances bashfully brushed the floor before connecting with almost every girl in the room, and with a swooning grin, no doubt in respects for the King, sang the words to melt the heart of every single Elvis fan there “I would beg and steal, just to feel your heart, beating close to mine,” and followed it with a muted, repeated “Jesse Davidson,” after each song. It was then I realised it was only a matter of time before that name would be on the lips of every young bohemian lady that would witness him sweeping the festival circuits in the years to come.
As he lead smoothly from the sweet honey-bee swings of ‘Moving On’ into probably his most well known track ‘Laika’ The truly warmed crowd begun to ark up and join in with his flailing limbs and sing along to the hook that hijacked Triple J earlier this year. After placing as a finalist in the 2012 Triple J Unearthed High comp at just 16, the subtle but startlingly established melisma in Jesse Davidson’s voice is set to take him far, and break some serious hearts in the process.
By the time the Art of Sleeping boys cheerfully jumped on stage and into the opening track ‘Empty Hands’ off their 2012 album Like a Thief, a sunny joviality seemed to radiate from the band members, out the speakers. As heads started swaying, I could no longer tell which was going down easier, the ginger beer in my hand or the warming dreamscape reverb that echoed throughout each song. Lead singer and guitarist Caleb Hodges’ clarity and range accentuated his effortless jumps to falsettos and eloquently gave the pertinent lyrics a whole new depth.
Moving through a mix of old favourites like ‘Above the Water,’ to songs off their newest album Shake Shiver, which is set to be released late next month, the bands psychedelic ambience contrasted against the prominent beat, creating an undeniable wave of sound. As the haunting cymbals rung out from the latest release ‘Voodoo’ the expansive arrangements and superstitious chorus destroyed any preconceived notions of warmth we had been given, and sent a lingering breeze and bittersweet reverence of heartbreak out into the crowd, to a time unfiltered by expiry.
All songs, both young and old, carried with them this coherent blend of reflective lyricism and heavy-set drumming from Jean-Paul Malengret, sprinkling trippy guitar jams and improvised interludes throughout, carrying each other with fond fluidity. Just as it seemed they might have been losing the beat in a spontaneous jam, such as at the end of ‘Burning Bright,’ they would naturally bring it back tenfold and smile as if it was just another late night drunken jam. Moving through unheard songs off their upcoming release, and ending on the infectious track ‘Crazy,’ I broke my gaze for the first time since they had begun to play. I noticed strangers in the audience swaying next to each other, sharing smiles and singing along together to the nostalgic, anguished refrain. The whimsical riff caught everyone, possessing my hands to give in to their newfound, apparent calisthenic nature. The crowd sharing not only in the performance, but also what appeared to be a moment, a feeling, an aura. The first glimpse into their latest album offered to us all their revelry, their rawness, and their realness…
and it’s because of this that the relentless force behind Art of Sleeping will go far, and hopefully, be back before we know it.
Photo Credit: Art of Sleeping