Posted 22 August 2016 by Adz Carter
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The long wait for the Passport To Airlie band comp is of course over now, with Heat Two taking place yesterday and well and truly getting things in full swing. For those who came to the party late, it’s a new year and a new venue, with the Stag & Hunter playing host to the comp this time ‘round. I definitely thought of this as a party of sorts too, as it was the weekend of my birthday, and I was keen to celebrate. And what a great setting to do it, as I didn’t even have to drink, I was simply able to sit back and get drunk on the music!


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Five piece band The Girl Folder kicked things off, bringing bass, drums, keyboards, and not one, not two, but three guitars. As well as great harmonies provided by the lead singer and one of the guitarists, the amazing sound from this band was clearly a result of these five guys being the sum of all parts. Right from the get go, the term “in the pocket” sprung to mind, as, despite the six instruments, the whole band were tighter than a fish’s preverbial. The first of this set of all originals was a sweet offering like the melodic rock stylings reminisant of late 90s era Pearl Jam. The second song seemed like The Black Keys were jamming with The White Stripes, but their sound wasn’t all black and white, with the third song being in the style of Crowded House. Just to add to the grey area, some wipe out surf style drums lead into a fourth song that kept with last week’s tradition of the first band having Audioslave and Led Zep riffs, and these guys were just as catchy as either band. The set’s closer showed even more diversity, with an alt rock style, and a very modern sound, while still giving a nod to the 70s. Plus, as with each and every song, it was performed with a hell of a lot of passion. So my only complaint about The Girl Folder was it all seemed to be over too soon.

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Michael Wilks also kept up with last week’s tradition of the second artist playing country, and playing it very damn well. 
It was Tom Petty meets Paul Kelly when Wilks took the stage, with the same story telling technique adopted by the former, only with the same emphasis on Australiana adopted by the latter. Unlike either artist though, Wilks was performing as a duo, joined by his wife Lorraine, who helped provide rich harmonies right throughout. The chemistry of the artists revealed that they were indeed a couple, and any doubt that may’ve been there was wiped when Wilks introduced their third song as one played at their wedding. By their own admission, it was a bit cheesy, but I think they can be forgiven for that, especially seeing as though it was just how any good love song should sound. Plus, the chemistry and passion made up for any smaltz. A couple of covers rounded out the set, including ‘Under The Milky Way’, with a folk/country and more up-tempo twist than The Church’s alternative sounding original. Creedence’s ‘Proud Mary’, however was done in the traditional of the original, and although the song has almost been done to death, this pair still made it sound fresh. This may’ve been due largely to the love these two share for not just the music, but each other. I don’t wish to patronize this duo, or trivialise their music by dwelling on them being a couple, but it seemed to add an extra special element to the performance. Much in the same way that Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks worked so well in their early days (and I sincerely hope I haven’t jinxed Michael and Lorraine by making that comparison...).

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When you see as many artists as I do, many blend into one, disappearing into the abyss, and some really stand out from the crowd, leaving a lasting impression. Codi Kaye fell into the latter category, as its rare performances such as this that, only a few notes in, I am gob smacked. Kaye opened with a new original ‘Run Away’ revealing an extremely powerful voice, especially for someone so young. By the second song (‘Lonely Boy’ by The Black Keys) Kaye had not only captivated this reviewer, but the entire crowd as well. ‘If I Die Young’, originally performed by American country band The Band Perry was not a song I was familiar with previously, but I became an instant fan of it, as I well and truly became a fan of Kaye after ‘Wrong Person’, which was a highly relatable original telling a tale of wasting one’s time in a relationship that is not meant to be. Although not really being a fan of The Lumineers myself, I did enjoy hearing ‘Ho Hey’, as in my humble opinion, it sounded better than their original, and ‘Scar’, I felt, was on par with the original by Missy Higgins. Next was another original number, written while Kaye was still in school, showing that this artist was wise beyond her years early on. Kaye put a bit of a spin on Jolene, adopting a slightly darker tone than Dolly Parton, and was sung with such conviction it was as if this young songstress has been here before. This artist already seems like a veteran, and maybe the best is yet to come for Codi Kaye, but what she delivers so far is just fantastic.

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As is quite often the case in any band comp, another artist had a hard act to follow, but Roy Rose took to the stage guns a ‘blazin and axes waving, ready to rock n’ roll! Armed with an acoustic guitar, a bass drum, and a milk crate with a tambourine attached, Rose was like a musical MacGyver, opening with a Black Keys-esque original that was catchier than the common cold. Rose kept his (and the entire afternoon’s) catchy tradition going with a rollicking version of the Cold Chisel classic ‘Bow River’ Cold Chisel classic putting a hell of a unique twist on it. Rose’s original ‘Lord Have Mercy On My Soul’ had so much stomp and swagger that those closest to the stage probably got flung with mud from his swampy slide guitar. Everyone was eating out of the palm of his hand, then The Cruel Sea’s signature tune ‘The Honeymoon Is Over’ had the capacity crowd even hungrier for more. Just like a true showman though, Rose left his audience wanting more with the toe tapping original ‘I’m Gonna Get There No Matter What Speed I Go’, once again proving what a sensational rock singer, virtuoso guitarist, and what a pro he was at percussion. Rose was a real one man band, rockin’ and rollin’ and stylin’ and profilin’ throughout, making it impossible for anyone in attendance to keep still.
Roy Rose also made it all look oh so incredibly easy!

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The Karma Collective of course had their work cut out for them by this point, but this five piece were surrounded by good karma throughout their set of originals, thanks to killer keyboards, a tight as tight rhythm section. Notable of course too was the two guitarists, who gave the band some real balls. The opening original had a slow build, with loud as f*ck drums, blending seamlessly into the Powderfinger style original ‘Cold Escape’ that the lead singer delivered with part Bernard Fanning and part Nick Cave style vocals. ’40 Pieces’, with its poignant lyrics, and beautiful somber tone of both the guitars and keyboards, was juxtaposed with the pounding of the drums, which helped drive the song to its crescendo. The Karma Collective had no flashy image as such but they still had a certain subtle swagger, reflected by the magnificent musicianship of all five members. The standout of the last song however, were the keyboards, which gave the music a real maturity, as they closed in the rise, fall, rise manner of ‘Band On The Run’ by Wings, or (in the more artist manner of) ‘The Soft Parade’ by The Doors. But the rhythm section still provided the backbone, as they did throughout their set. Once again though, the song was driven with a twin guitar attack that was a force to be reckoned with, as were this band, who were not only very hard to pigeonhole but even harder to not to like.

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Just like last years, the planets aligned for me and I was able to celebrate my birthday being thoroughly entertained at this brilliant band comp, and yesterday, the planets, stars and notes were all in the right places for both the runner up Cody Kaye, and the winner, Roy Rose. Congrats to Cody, who now advances to the semi-final (taking place 11th Sept), and Roy, who goes directly to the grand final (taking place 18th Sept). Given the level of talent in every round of these comps, coming out on top is simply a stellar achievement. So make sure to join us again next week at the Stag & Hunter, where we’ll have five more fantastic artists battling it out for their spot in the Grand Final. Also, just by buying a drink (or a meal from the bistro), YOU can also be a winner, with both a $50 bar voucher up for grabs at every heat, and a brand new Gretsch guitar going off at the Grand Final! So put on your glad rags and I’ll see you there!

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