Jai Price headed down to Mojos Bar Freo on a lazy Sunday evening to catch the explosive Caravana Sun, who turned his quiet weekend upside down.
Caravana Sun was the most explosive performance I’ve ever witnessed. When the band came out in a blazing start (the only instruments set up on stage prior to their explosive entry were keyboard and drums), it was obvious that supporting acts The Hunting Birds and 56 Hope Road were utilised to warm the audience to the funky, surf-rock, reggae stylings of the four-piece ensemble. Having said that, no amount of serene vocals and bongo drums could have prepared me for the cataclysm of noise that would come forth from the main act.
The Hunting Birds was a pleasant start to the evening. Solid vocal harmonisation combined with talented electric and acoustic guitar playing. It was obvious the band truly enjoyed what they were doing, its members rarely still. Although I initially dismissed the first song is repetitive, by the end I realised I was in a trance, as their powerful stage presence took hold. This is thanks in part to the fine synergy between singers Connor Minervini
and Kendra Fewster— the former has a nasally drone that is endearing, while the latter has a smooth voice that wraps around you.
56 Hope Road was mind-blowing, fusing reggae with funk and hard-rock, while making liberal use of rap. It was pretty much the musical equivalent of achieving enlightenment. The inclusion of a saxophone added a hefty weight to the pieces, which incorporated California surfer-esque guitar licks, frenzied drumming and stilted keyboard notes.
Hell, the saxophone player gets a pass purely because he wore a Jamaican bucket hat. Seeing a stout man in a rabbit shirt (what is surely his spirit animal) spit out blazing-fast rhymes was as spontaneous as it was enjoyable. Although all a bit of a disjointed furore, in the end it came together in what can only be described as ordered chaos, and it was wonderful.
No amount of prior listening could have prepared me for the sheer wall of sound that Caravana Sun built. Their recorded material does serious injustice to their live performance. Surreal keyboard chords met with intermittent guitar to lull the audience into a sense of wonder… Before all hell broke loose, as the dreadlocked bassist turned on the funk and lead singer Luke Carra sang lines as fast as a soccer mum in a school zone at 2:31. The most notable, and memorable, aspect of the band’s performance was that of keyboardist/trumpeter, Ken Allars, whose bleating injected a spark into the madness.
One cheeky manoeuvre that was used lovingly was the band’s use of breaks to fake-out the end of songs, during which they’d let the hype build, before blasting back even stronger. The highlight of the night was Eye of the Storm, a piece of longing for someone who’s far away, that started off with funky guitar picking before keyboard chords added a surreal vibe. The song was funky and oppressive, a duality that contrasted well with the previous upbeat numbers. The bassist in particular was a real showman, always keeping the audience engaged with humorous banter and jovial grin.
Caravana Sun is a band that needs to be seen live to be fully appreciated. It is in their natural habitat of a small, intimate venue that they really let loose and tow the audience along for the ride. Although the clash of blaring guitar, slick vocals, thrumming bass, pounding drums and mystical keyboards was an absolute joy to behold, the crowning glory was the trumpet.
I was on the edge of my… corner of the wall (there were no seats), always keen for when it would make its next bombastic appearance. Ultimately, the stellar mix of reggae, funk and rock blend so well together that, combined with the band’s deep love for their fans, makes for a balls to the wall performance that won’t be forgotten.