Live Review: Pearls at Goodgod in Sydney

Pearls band shot’s Melissa Barrass checked out three Australian acts at Sydney’s Goodgod. Here’s the scoop:

In front of a small and intimate crowd, the swirling drawl of an electric guitar hums and buzzes off the drum kit beside a lone and mysterious Ela Stiles. Clad in black and donning the coolest hair that is even making me contemplate a chop, Stiles is tall and beautiful. This was my first time seeing and hearing Ela Stiles and I don’t think it will be the last, for this local musician is one to keep an eye on. Her music is raw, with her extending vocals reaching a high Celtic-folk hymn-like pitch, which all on top of the buzzing atmospheric guitar, is honestly much more beautiful than it is probably coming across.

Ela StilesHer music is sure not for everyone. It is slow and requires only the ears to enjoy. It’s so raw you are left waiting for that split second where she takes a vocal chord too far, but she doesn’t. Her voice is evidently central to her performance; it is swirling and high pitched with silences and plenty of harmonies. Her music seems to connect folk and eastern influences, especially on tracks like ‘Kumbh Mela’, which would have been a lot more clean and easy listening had the reverb not vibrated the lone drum-kit to the point of annoyance. But Ela Stiles has opened up a whole new world of live music to me and I cannot wait to catch her again.

Next up on the stage was Black Zeros, an electrifying surf/skate pop-punk band from Sydney who is probably my new favourite local act. The band thrashed through their set to a responsive crowd ready to let their hair down after the chill and moving set from Ela Stiles. Fronted by Sydney’s coolest girl Joe Jackson, Black Zeros are everything your inner groovy 70s child could have ever asked for. With the backdrop of glittering tinsel streamers and a centred disco ball, the room was soaked in neon blues and pinks and it was beginning to feel much like a prom scene.

The band mastered a new song that was only learnt the night before and finished with the dreamy track ‘Ride’.

PearlsFinally onto the last act – Pearls are this phenomenal, hip-shaking band from Melbourne. I first caught them on triple j midway through ‘Big Shot’, and I admittedly thought at first it was a Daniel Johns and Kimbra collab, because let’s face it, it’s an obvious mistake. The wave of glam pop rock delighted the active crowd that slinked side to side for ‘Pretend you’re Mine’, and swayed to the gorgeous echoed vocals of Ryan Caesar and Cassandra Kiely in ‘Albion’. Pearls are the type of band that emit enough sensuality that their music could easily slot into a scene or two of Twin Peaks (here’s hoping for the remake).

On stage Ryan Caesar performs his ‘ritual’ shirt tuck into a stamped leather belt before turning back to the crowd to complete the show with the song everyone was waiting for, ‘Big Shot’. Though lyrically minimal, ‘Big Shot’ is wild and sexy (in a badass way). Drummer Ellice Blakeney performs the chorus cries that give the song such a strong identity. I think we will be hearing a lot more from the fresh and unique Pearls, especially when the remixes drop and the wailing vocals of Ellice will rightfully guide us onto the dancefloor of a grimey bar downtown.

Atmosphere: 10
Sound: 6 (seriously though, too much snare vibration during Ela’s set)
Lineup: 10

melissa barrass


Review and live pics by Melissa Barrass.