Set in Maitland Gaol, Elsewhere: The Lock Up was an enchanting experience – despite the cold concrete walls topped with barbed wire that surrounded us. The organisers somehow made a gaol (aka jail) feel intimate and welcoming, which I can’t imagine was easily achieved. Headlining the event was singer-songwriter Josh Pyke, as the crowd was warmed up with the sounds of De’May, The Soorleys, Hayden Calnin, Thelma Plum and The Basics.
The one time you’ll see people clamouring to break in to prison, Elsewhere: The Lockup proved to be a rousing and intimate affair. A slammer of a good time.
Kicking off the day’s festivities was Newcastle based solo artist De’May, accompanied by her guitar and all black attire, De’May’s folk sound carried through the grass field spread with picnic blankets and punters hiding from the heat of the sun. The crowd, ranging in ages, were happy exploring the space whilst listening to the sweet acoustic sounds coming from the stage.
The Soorleys were next to grace the stage; all six of them bringing an infectious folk-pop sound that prompted the crowd to sing along to their track Time. The Soorleys are a Newcastle family band with lots of love to share with the crowd. It was as if they had invited us to an intimate family gathering and were jamming in the backyard. Adding to that vibe, lead singer Beth’s toddler walked her way up to the front of the seated crowd and began dancing, getting the attention from everyone there as she waved to her parents on stage.
The event had an impressive quality of food choices. Local businesses Newy Burger Co and Doughheads were on hand to satisfy hungry punters without breaking the bank which was great.
Hayden Calnin from Melbourne brought his electro indie sound to the event, his alluring voice and smooth production resembling the likes of Bon Iver and James Blake. Over the last few years, Calnin has supported artists such as Tom Odell, Matt Corby, Willy Mason, Oliver Tank and Missy Higgins. The influences of Matt Corby became quickly apparent in his music. He’s an artist to watch out for, with the crowd shuffling closer to bask in the sun and appreciate the quality sounds they were hearing. He referred to his songs as “sad and depressing” and thought that it was fit “because we [were] in a gaol”.
Fellow Melbournite, Thelma Plum walked on stage after her band settled in, grabbing the microphone saying “This song is a big fuck you to my ex-boyfriend” as her track Breathe In, Breathe Out began. Plum’s heavenly voice stayed strong throughout the set, but as she spoke with the crowd awkwardly she revealed that she much prefers singing, so stuck to doing just that. An exception though came before her last song and it was to encourage the crowd to think of someone they really disliked and put their middle fingers up while singing the last lines of Around Here “la di da di da di da da fuck you”. It was a set too good to end so quickly.
Dressed in suits The Basics, consisting of Wally De Backer, Kris Schroeder and Tim Heath took to the stage as a Bryan Adams song played, to which the band and crowd were equally amused by. The band mentioned that they hadn’t played together in eight months so were feeling the nerves, but they were incredibly entertaining, with music and comedy. Everyone in the crowd laughed at their witty and sarcastic comments throughout their set. One being “Get up and dance to this one, you have to get up at some point, even if it’s to leave”. The crowd flocked to the front of the stage to dance as they smashed out their rock and roll anthems, which finished with a cover of ACDC’s Jail Break.
While waiting for Josh Pyke, the crowd that were still seated leapt to join the others at the front, applauding the solo singer songwriter as he entered the stage. Pyke spoke about how many episodes of Prison Break he had watched lately, and thought he could easily break out of Maitland Gaol, as crowd members shared the history of actual escapes. The show was very intimate, the crowd feeling as if they were close friends of Pyke, being invited into his home.
The stage presence that Pyke brings is incredible. If you closed your eyes during his set, you could easily forget that there was only one person standing on the stage before you. His experience and passion for music and his fans shines through in his performance. During his set, fans began to yell out requests, one crowd member yelling “Sew My Name”, Pyke responded with “Say My Name? By Beyonce” (well Destiny’s Child, but Beyonce is the only one that’s remembered).
Using his loop pedal later in his set Pyke decided to please the crowd with a sample of Say My Name, singing his version of the lyrics and his take on Beyonce’s dancing – with much delight from the crowd. The talented songwriter finished with Middle of The Hill, thanking the crowd for their continuous support over the years.
Punters left the event feeling satisfied from their taste of music, comedy and delicious burgers and doughnuts. The event was incredibly unique and offered an intimate yet exciting setting. Definitely keep an eye on Elsewhere for future events.