Riley Pearce at Cleaver Street Studio

The air hung heavy and hot at Cleaver Street Studio for the intimate performance of Perth folk prodigy Riley Pearce, as he delivered a sombre, heartfelt, Passenger-esque set to the stifling studio space last Saturday.

Luke Fox was a fine way to showcase the pitch perfect acoustics of the Cleaver Street and Co. Studio. Despite the venue rendering us clay unto a kiln, his mellow vocals wound their way across a galaxy of sentimental guitar, while his lone bandmate provided benevolent accompaniment.  Fox’s vocal stylings undoubtedly put the audience in the mood for a night of whimsy, his artful showmanship just as apparent in his words as in his music. It’s always good getting to know something personal about an artist, and to find that the two had been friends for an age without ever playing music together made their performance even sweeter. All in all, Fox’s stylistic synergy meshed perfectly with the surroundings, giving a solid indicator of what to expect from remainder of the night.

As much as I enjoyed seeing Teischa perform at Rottofest back in September of last year, the intimate studio space is where I feel her and her band are able to reach their full potential. Teischa’s soulful vocals were backed by stellar keyboard chords which gave an airy feel, while tempered drumming allowed the backing vocals of her companions to come to the fore. These were best on display during standout track Oh, Brother, a personable number that, as with the best of songs, had a weighty backstory to go with it. The emotion drifting from the stage was palpable, a humble beginning of Tesicha on guitar was soon joined by her bandmates, as they solemnly sung “Who said that you owe me this?”. I could definitely feel the Bill Withers influence here, her voice summoning a harsh edge as she sniped “This ain’t right now for you”. A mix of physical and electro drums added a flash and a bang, while the often meandering keyboard  gave a toe-tapping slickness to events. Teischa and company gave a sweltering performance that built up further hype, her smooth voice invading your ears like the Trojan horse did Troy.

Riley Pearce is Australia’s answer to Ryan Adams; a by turns rugged and tender voice, aching, passionate lyrics backed by highly skilful musicianship. I don’t know what I was more impressed by: his blistering picking coupled with a voice of yearning, or his ability to play his guitar while it rested on his lap, tapping it in a jungle rhythm at regular intervals. Treating the audience to two solo acoustic songs, Pearce effortlessly engaged with his soft-spoken manner and equally minimalistic guitar playing. Soon joined by four band members, Pearce kicked things up a notch, breathing cool life into the stagnant, musty air. Outside the Lines was the highlight, featuring trumpet stabs that helped keep things feeling fresh. It was a feel-good track, as Pearce crooned “Your eyes are like the water/Your eyes are like the bluest blue skies”. He was as much an entertainer as he was singer, commenting on the bagels served throughout the evening, even going so far as to thank a guy that visited the toilets situated behind him. A solo encore rounded out the evening, the stripped back nature of it ending things on a chilled note. Riley Pearce is one of the best artists I’ve seen, Perth based or otherwise. You owe it to yourself to see him live, his welcome mix of acoustic and band-based compositions are a joy to behold.

Jai Price

Jai is a 21 year-old Perth lad looking to be a moderately successful teacher and/or journalist. His interests include playing videogames, watching anime, reading manga (and, you know, actual tv shows and literature) and writing reviews. His most shameful interest is an unironic love of Maroon 5.

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