If you’re looking for a relaxed and intimate night of storytelling through song, Oliver Downes – At the End is a great place to start your tour of the Melbourne Fringe.
Finding our seats at Ruby’s Music Room, my plus one and I were quickly greeted by the venue’s staff with sheets of A5 paper and a handful of sharpies. We were told that we might need these later on. Laughing a bit at the random colours we were given, we hoped that the start of the show might bring an explanation for the colouring tools.
Oliver Downes soon welcomed the crowd and explained that the sharpies and paper weren’t part of some profound artistic project; they were just to give us something to do with our hands so we didn’t get bored during the gig.
Even though colouring was encouraged, I found it difficult to pull myself away from the music as Oliver, along with his guitarist and drummer, played their first few tunes. The contrast of the piano’s repeating arpeggios and rhythmically alternating major chords and the long melodic lines of Oliver’s vocals kept me from uncapping my sharpies for nearly the full set.
The insight an artist gives into their work—music in the case of Oliver Downes—is something that always captures my interest. The felling of being the last people on earth and the imagined sensation of hang-gliding were inspiration for some of his work. Oliver’s resonant tone—especially prominent in his lower registers—carried these stories gracefully throughout the venue.
At the closing of the second set, I was impressed by the drummer’s use of hemiolas and ever-changing syncopation. The rhythmic variation had the audience nearly laughing at his playful skillful-ness. The final track of the evening, Ultraviolet, showcased the relationship between the repetition of a single note on the piano and the guitar’s easy-going melodic line.
Perfectly fit for the venue, Oliver Downes (and his band, jokingly named “the Corporate Stooges”) delivered a night of storytelling that allowed the audience and myself to pass from silliness to serious moments and back again.
Hannah Rundman, originally from Michigan, USA, is an arts manager and lover of art that break the mold of established mediums. She values eye contact and art that brings diverse groups of people together.
‘Oliver Downes—At the End‘ runs Fridays and Saturdays from 18 September to 3
October at Ruby’s Music Room, 132 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC 3000.
This venue is accessible by wheelchair.