Upon entering Miami Marketta for the sold out Gold Coast leg of the Ocean Alley tour, I was hit by a furious wave of lace flares and Brixton hats worn by a huge crowd of all ages ready to dance. It was a stormy Sunday afternoon, and despite the patrons being drenched by the rain, the atmosphere was full of cheer. Before this night, I’d always referred to Ocean Alley as “Ohhh, sounds like Sticky Fingers minus the racism and misogyny”, but hearing them play I was immediately knocked off my high-horse and pleasantly surprised by their ability to connect with the crowd and the tightness of the performance.
One of the supporting bands of the night was CLEWS. These two ladies from South Coast NSW warmed up the crowd for Ocean Alley in typical indie-rock fashion. The sisters, Lily and Grace, had a natural and delightful stage presence that oozed the confidence of seasoned performers. Their coordinated outfits were almost as cohesive as their soaring harmonies and catchy choruses. This was unfortunately let down by the sound at Miami Marketta on this day. The vocal levels were way too muddy for a room where the sound just bounced off the foil roof, not to mention the amount of feedback throughout the set was excessive. However, the girls pushed through and delivered an energetic performance, even keeping the energy up throughout the acoustic ballad that they gave us in the middle of the set. This band radiates potential.
Much to the delight of the dedicated crowd itching with anticipation, Ocean Alley finally hit the stage. At first, I thought the sound had improved since CLEWS set, but I spoke too soon and we were hit with another long string of feedback and crunchy guitars through the first few songs, which would be totally fitting for a punk band. Unfortunately, this just doesn’t roll well with a reggae-fusion surf-rock band. The sound improved as the set went on, and was soon barely noticeable behind the smooth guitar tones of the boys on stage. The energy was high throughout the whole set from the front man Baden Donegal, and they were all presented as very humble performers. Musically, each member fit their role well, especially during the guitar solos where they allowed for more space so that the instrument and tone could be appreciated. The effortless harmonies weaved around the heavy use of silky and spacey guitar tones and the boys were engaging. The crowd’s energy was a match for this, as they lost their mind’s over crowd favourites such as ‘Confidence’, ‘Yellow Mellow’ and even some new tracks.
Overall, the band delivered a captivating set that went for over an hour, including the encores. This, supported by the amazing light show by Miami Marketta, made for a fun Sunday afternoon despite the complications with the sound. If you get the chance to catch these surf-rockers sometime soon, I highly recommend jumping on board the ‘Holiday’ ship.