Ali Barter and Gordi at Hibernian House
Reviewer/photographer Phil Erbacher headed along to Sydney’s iconic Hibernian House for a performance from Ali Barter and Gordi. Here’s what went down:
Upon arriving at 342 Elizabeth Street, attendees were greeted by a flyer gaffed to the wall with “PRESS 205!” scribbled in pen. Choosing to ascend to level two via the stairs, I was accompanied by the creaking of mostly reliable stairs and the soothing sway of my plastic bag containing BYO beverages (fuck you, RSA and licensed venues!).
Welcome to the history (and graffiti) soaked walls of Hibernian House, once upon a time home to such local heroes as Isabella Manfredi of the Preatures and our very own editor Bobby “Six” Townsend. Patrons were welcomed into the room by Ali herself and one then had the option of couches or floorboards within a homely space with a real DIY feel.
First act of the evening was Newcastle lad Laidlaw Puha, aka White Gums. He presented a drifty, floaty set with what seemed like lyricless vocal pulses filled with a grace that grows and recedes throughout. Not entirely unlike Sigur Rós, but certainly quite personal and pleasant. It would be fascinating to see a darker, more tweaking side to this sound, but the performance was engaging, tranquil and appreciated by all in attendance.
In between acts, I head upstairs to a higher balcony for a dart. I’m probably five stories up. Leaning over a railing, I look down into the bowels of Hibernian. Way down the bottom, a dark, still mass catches my eye. Then it fucking moves. This place has big rats. Way too big. Back inside.
Reentering the venue, it was pretty cute to see Ali psyching herself up off to the side, supported by friends and admirers alike. No need to stress. She wanders flawlessly through her set.
Her voice is really rather soothing. The songs are delivered with gentle passion and a hint of vulnerability. Armed with nought but a guitar, the sound is quite sparse, yet you certainly know she’s in the room. Interesting chords. Good chords.
To conclude the evening, Gordi took to the stage. She exudes a civilised and empowered character. Navigating failing guitar issues effortlessly, her songs sat quite comfortably once things progressed.
The ability to switch from guitar to keyboard seamlessly, all while singing is a brand of multitasking I do not possess. Mixing candid sincerity with a charactered smile made her set a pleasure to witness.
Words and pictures by Phil Erbacher.