String Sessions, Melbourne Music Week

paper house’s Jess O’Callaghan learns something new about violins…

It’s not often Melbourne’s folk-pop artists and classical musicians appear on the same stage. For a few years I lived with a classical musician, and a gig that was a once-in-a-life-time event for her, a gig that everyone was talking about that week, wouldn’t even make a blip on my radar. It worked the other way too – me taking her along to watch someone sing songs with quirky lyrics and pluck at a ukulele was something like a trip to the circus.

Both are scenes which are vibrant in Melbourne, with something on somewhere every night of the week. Melbourne Music Week made the worlds collide, early, at an event called ‘String Sessions’ at the Toff on a Sunday afternoon.

Melbourne folk/pop/electronica favourites Paper House, Georgia Fields and Second Hands Heart reworked their performances to collaborate with a string section from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. The best of both worlds.

I was expecting just the vocals and lyrics from the folk half of the collaboration, but the reality of all three performances was much more interesting and awesome. Second Hand Heart‘s keys and subtle electronics worked alongside the strings to open, setting the expectations high for the whole night. The lighting and projections made the entire show feel theatrical.

Georgia Fields has the incredible ability to take something you’ve always thought and put it in a sentence. Having a string section behind each song made everything feel infinitely more epic, gave it more gravitas.

The production for Paper House was spectacular, and filled the band room at The Toff, attention fully captured, mouths slightly agape.

The drum beat dropped, and the strings took over, keeping the rhythm while the song sailed on. “I didn’t know violins could do that,” my friend said, under her breath. Her eyes didn’t move from the stage.

No. Neither did I.



Review by Jess O’Callaghan.