Image Courtesy of Hayden Calnin
Hayden Calnin with The Falls
19th September 2012, FBi Social
Since I first stumbled across the gorgeous music of Melbourne based nu-folk singer-songwriter Hayden Calnin I’ve been chomping at the bit to see him live. His EP City is stunning and I heard reports that seeing him reproduce its ethereal soundscapes on stage was a must. So Calnin’s appearance at FBi Social in Sydney’s Kings Cross last week was high on my must see gigs.
Supporting Hayden Calnin were Sydney mainstays The Falls, finding time between their tours with Passenger and Charlie Mayfair to once again bring their gorgeous harmonies to their home crowd. I’m not sure there’s much more I can say about The Falls that hasn’t already been said in previous reviews here on Timber and Steel, only to say it was great to see them on a Wednesday night while their Folk Club residency is taking a break.
It would be pretty remiss of me not to mention the on-stage proposal that happened between sets – the happy couple will no doubt cherish Hayden Calnin and The Falls’ music for many years to come.
The venue was pretty packed by the time Hayden Calnin walked on stage but you could have heard a pin drop when he started building his loop-pedal driven songs. I’m not normally a fan of the sound at FBi Social – despite being an intimate, well positioned room nine times out of ten the sound is muddy and dull – on this night it was crystal clear and perfectly suited to Calnin’s music.
If you’re unfamiliar with Hayden Calnin’s music probably the best touchstones would be Bon Iver and Matt Corby. Corby in particular is an important comparison – the two artists are so sonically similar you’d be forgiven for getting them mixed up. But this similarity doesn’t overshadow the fact that this music is simply stunning and the way Calnin is able to manipulate his sound – drawing long, cello like sounds out of his guitar and deftly layering vocals to create a wall of noise – shows a true mastery of his art.
Highlights for me on the night were “Summer” (also a highlight of Hayden Calnin’s EP City) with the way he builds the “Don’t you worry now…” vocal parts only to then cut loose over the top of them, “Shutter” about his share house in Collingwood and the stunning “For My Help” which Calnin stripped back to its bare bones. I was also really impressed with the near-capacity audience who were attentive and reverent throughout. I wonder if, like Matt Corby, will find it challenging to capture this kind of atmosphere as he plays larger and larger rooms.
Finishing up with “Dinosaur Stampede”, an older song which you which you can find on Youtube, Hayden Calnin had won over the Sydney crowd and proved that he’s definitely an artist to watch. If you get a chance to see him in a smaller venue jump at the chance – the experience is magic.