Jess locke shared laughs, tunes and cake with punters at the Old Bar

Sticky floors couldn’t stop feet moving. The feels were too good, and the music flowed effortlessly. Oh, and there was cake...

A thick set of humid air lay across the bandroom early, some involuntary perspiring ensued, a few unwelcome beads trickling down the forehead. The wait between sets verged on becoming antsy.

Luckily, Jim Lawrie and co came forth with the antidote, cracking jangly guitars out through the fog. Their notes trailed out into wide open planes, a space to breathe, before Lawrie’s vocals soared off into the newly broken chasm.

With the mood dialled in, Jess Locke swam through the fans to open with the steady strums of ‘Drive To Drink’. It’s a song where Locke appears at her most comfortable, a catchy off-kilter beat married to some quirky vibrato chords. It’s an apt vehicle for the delivery of her lyrics, her voice articulating the nuances of her wrought over, bedroom philosophy. It’s a track that strips back her voice to its most naked, the guitar retreating from the verse in parts, with just the bass and drums keeping things moving.

 ‘Universe’ brings some buoyancy to the stream of tracks. It’s a big sound for a three-piece, the bass articulating some thickness to the progression, while the drums are smacked into a submission with an off-balance groove. The drummer spares a wink for a punter at the front who happens to be overtly admiring.

The band rests a half-second before launching into the catchy ‘Better/Biter’, a massive track that has plenty of circulation out on the airwaves. Its arrival at this interval brings on some hearty cheers as the crowd sings back every word. 

Between songs, Locke has a loveable awkwardness. Though she always seems very comfortable. She shares a laugh with a “heckler” up front (one of her fans and a frequent show goer), who yells out in adoration every time something on stage hits the right spot. Her jabs with bandmates on stage and smiles all around make it seem like everyone is genuinely enjoying themselves and the crowd can’t help but mirror the fun.

And yes, there actually was a cake. A Universe cake, baked by one of Locke’s friends for the show. It was brought out towards the end of the set and held up as Locke expressed a few words of appreciation for the turnout. It was then passed out to the crowd for everyone to enjoy. It didn’t make it too far before Locke passed on that “make sure you bring the dish back guys, we actually need the dish”, which brought on plenty of laughs.

Album launch tours usually have an atmosphere of achievement and celebration. But never does it manifest in such a weird and wonderful way. That’s Jess Locke though, weird, wonderful, talented and inviting. Is there a better way to celebrate that?


Highlight: The cake of course.

Lowlight: Standing in the same spot for a while actually had you stuck to the carpet.

Crowd Favourite: ‘Better/Bitter’.