Close Counters // Sunday, March 3 // The Penny Black


2019’s Brunswick Music Festival kicked off with a bang on Sunday as the extravagant Sydney Road Street Party formed one huge day of festivities. Sydney Road was closed between Brunswick Road and Victoria Street becoming a massive street fare filled with stalls, people and music. There were a whole range of sights as all walks of life came together in the heart of Melbourne’s multicultural precinct. Along with the food and market stalls lining the sides of the pavement, live music stages emerged in side streets out of nowhere and bars, houses and balconies were overflowing with people. The wonderful aromas of the food stalls filled the closed off 1-kilometre strip as every delicious cuisine imaginable was created. As great as the tasty food and diverse market stalls were though, the masses of people were gravitating towards the incredible sounds coming from all the stages and live music venues.


On music alone Brunswick strutted its diversity by showcasing all genres of music. Walking down Sydney Road, 1 minute you were enjoying an alternative rock band, the next you are getting down to a fast-paced rap collective, then all of a sudden, you’re in the middle of a tribal dance. The weather turned it on, but the heat fast became unbearable outside on the street making it more and more inviting to set up shop in a bar. We chose the Penny Black, which proved to be a very wise choice.


One of the biggest venues in the Sydney Road Street Festival curated a whopping 17 acts playing throughout both the day and night split between their bandroom near the entrance and outdoor stage towards the back. As the temperature fell late in the evening, things were heating up in the Penny Black courtyard, more specifically during Close Counters’ set. Right from the start of their set, the tantalising bass hooks and crafty synths of Close Counters quickly turned the Penny Black’s vibe from afternoon sippers into an energised dancefloor. The Tasmanian-based neighbours Finn Rees and Allan McConnell with the help of talented violinist Elle Shamida and Lucky Pereira on the drums filled the gigantic beer garden with their future beat sounds. The Taroona boys fused dance, boogie, disco beats and more reminding us of iconic British duo Disclosure. But it wasn’t just the UK dynamos that they resembled, the Tassie neighbours showed traces of Sydney pair Cosmo’s Midnight and Harvey Sutherland, who we were treated to earlier in the day as the Melbourne funk synthesist produced a 3-hour masterclass at the Brunswick Mechanics Institute.


Rees and McConnell had the crowd of the Penny Black eating out of the palm of their hands whilst dropping groovy samples one after the other. The boys reportedly on their website biography uncovered these samples crate digging on their travels on a gap year through Europe, inspiring them to their breakthrough debut full length project Soulacoasta. If you are yet to tune into this 12-track masterwork, stop reading this and jump on it now. You’ll be smashing the repeat button on this relentless venture of electronic goodness.


When you listen to the mixtape and hear the two live what you’ll find is a familiar, but unique flow. The rare 70s groove samples intertwine effortlessly with the wavering synths and basslines. Hearing the two for the first of what will be many times there seemed to be no clear-cut point where one song ended, and another started. Ultimately, this created a wild and sweaty dancefloor as the electronic combo seamlessly transitioned from one track to another making the Penny Black reach its full potential. Furthermore, this flow allowed from a crowd perspective a natural and smooth collaboration with Elle Shamida on the violin and Lucky Pereira with his heart racing afrodrumming.

If you want to see some artists that know their way around a groove, I would highly recommend seeing Close Counters. This talented electrifying duo from Tasmania pack a serious punch as they can get any dancefloor moving with their funky hooks. They have already performed and are destined to play again at featured festivals like Party in The Paddock and Falls Festival and have opened for the likes of Peking Duk, What So Not and The Kite String Tangle, so it won’t be hard to locate this exciting disco/dance infused duo.


To get a taste of Close Counters, here’s the official video to their track Travel Treats off their Soulacoasta mixtape.


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