Why Chapel Summer Sessions is the underdog of Melbourne’s live music scene

Why Chapel Summer Sessions is the underdog of Melbourne’s live music scene

Kyle Lionhart
Bobby Alu
Jess & Matt
Reece Mastin
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Words by Caitlin Hynes

One of the greatest elements of Melbourne’s music scene are the understated venues that quietly host evenings you’ll never quite forget.

Chapel Off Chapel is one such venue, who’ll be hosting an enigmatic lineup of emerging and internationally recognised artists for the upcoming Chapel Summer Sessions next month.

Running from Saturday February 1 to Friday February 21, the 2020 Chapel Summer Sessions will see performances from Sydney duo Jess & Matt, acoustic crooner Kyle Lionhart and regular guest Thando, to name a few. From rock’n’roll to hip hop and gospel to folk, Chapel Summer Sessions exhibit how innovative the Chapel Off Chapel team are in their campaign to deliver music for all.

Chapel Off Chapel’s Marketing and Producer Liasion Officer, Ibrahim Mustafa, has been with the company for 14 years, and has seen this annual event grow from strength to strength.

“We’re an all ages venue, so these shows are for everyone, no matter the age or genre preference. Your whole undivided attention is to the music and that’s so beautiful,” explains Mustafa.

Launched in 2016, the Chapel Summer Sessions have humbly delivered utterly intimate performances that move you deeply, whilst also allowing punters the opportunity to experiment comfortably with different genres and musicians.

“We want to appeal to music lovers of all genres,” says Mustafa. “These sessions give people the opportunity to try out different genres, styles or musicians.

“Once you go into the venue, everyone is hooked onto the music and no one makes a sound. They fall into the magic of the artist. The venue and its intimacy add to the theatrical element of the show.”

Like MTV Unplugged, the Chapel Summer Sessions deliver an unforgettable opportunity for the artist to deliver their music from a completely different angle. Similar to Kurt Cobain’s stripped back MTV performance with Nirvana in 1993, Chapel Off Chapel gives artists the chance to perform differently, in an intimately live setting.

The superb acoustics, lighting and classic stained-glass windows deliver aesthetics that only heighten the magic of the music and demands the audience’s attention like a magnetic pull.

“The performers also use the venue to strip back their performance to something raw and honest. There’s no back-up dancers or anything like that,” Mustafa explains.

“For example, Kyle Lionhart usually has a full band but for this event he’s using a string orchestra and stripping his music right back.”

What Chapel Off Chapel achieves with its Chapel Summer Sessions are iconic moments in time that feel so intimate, they rock you right to your core. It’s those moments where musicians you love, or are alternatively just discovering, belt out lyrics and chords like their life depends on it, and it pierces so clearly through the Chapel air. The sessions are a unique experience, and something you’re not likely to forget.

They aren’t short-lived performances either, with the musicians delivering two sets that are broken up by an intermission. This means you’re able to spend substantial amounts of time under a musical spell, becoming more acquainted with the artists across the 2020 program.

“It’s basically a bargain special with these artists performing a full-sized show,” says Mustafa. “Really, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to see these artists in one utterly intimate location.”

Mustafa and Chapel Off Chapel have also done us all a favour by immortalising past performances, selecting three songs from each artist’s set to record and publish on the venue website. Do yourself a favour and watch one of Thando’s former appearances at the Chapel Summer Sessions, especially her performance with Ngaiire. You won’t regret it.

Chapel Summer Sessions runs from Saturday February 1 to Friday February 21 at Chapel Off Chapel. You can find tickets and the full program on the venue website.