Driving in the city is hard. But the gig would go too late for me to catch public transport, and I live too far away for talk of taxis or Ubers. So I put myself in my little car and I made it all the way to Fat Controller. It’s the first time I’ve been there since it used to be The Cavern. It’s totally not The Cavern any more. But it’s nice and open, has cosy little nooks, and the stage is now much more a stage for bands than a performance space.

First up tonight is local band MANE. Originally from Port Pirie, singer Paige possesses a haunting vocal style which enticed the small crowd forward. It’s quite funky and groovy when the whole band joins in, and they sound decidedly bigger than a three piece. Setting aside her guitar toward the end of their set allowed Paige to close her eyes and disappear into the dark and brooding landscape of sound, and the growing crowd were definitely enjoying it. The use of samples (and possibly loops? Not sure, couldn’t really see from where I was) work well with her voice, alternating from deep crooning to echoing yelps effortlessly, despite a very sore and croaky throat.  Get well soon, MANE!

Sloan Peterson are named after Ferris Bueller’s girlfriend. And just like being Ferris Bueller’s girlfriend, they’re pretty cool. Unashamedly pop rock, with some delicious 50s/60s surf guitar riffs, Sloan Peterson are full of happiness and energy. Front woman Joannah Jackson is tiny, but commands the audience’s attention and she receives it in spades.  Standing toward the back of the venue, I had a great view of the crowd swaying in unison, transfixed as they played the more dreamy tunes, and happily bopping to the more upbeat. I would not be surprised to see them playing at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance.  Reminiscent of the fantastic English band The Pipettes, full of hand claps and oooh aaah oooh’s. They made mention of where to find their stuff online and are sure to have earned themselves quite a few new fans. They are smiley and happy and clearly enjoying themselves which it’s great to see. You know what else is great? Three bands tonight, all fronted by women. Girls to the front!

Quick shout out to Fat Controller for playing That Thing You Do between bands. Inspired choice.

Alex Lahey walks out to and exceedingly warm welcome from the appreciative crowd and launches straight into Every Day’s the Weekend. The audience erupted with a communal sense of joy, and from the looks of Alex’s beaming smile, the feeling was more than mutual. Ripping into oldie Wes Anderson and excellent break up song, (and cleverly titled) Perth Traumatic Stress Disorder it’s easy to see what her fans see in her. Alex sings from the heart. Her songs tell stories we’ve all lived.  You feel them. Singing along feels cathartic and freeing. As much as the audience tonight enjoyed Mare and Sloan Peterson, it’s clear everyone is here for Alex Lahey and she is stoked to see all of us too. Her first album I Love You Like a Brother made its debut at number 15 on the Aria charts, and it’s full of bangers.  It’s only a week old but the crowd must have been thrashing it during that time, judging by the gleeful sing-alongs to every song. There’s an undeniably positive vibe in the room despite many songs being about break ups (interruption for an excellent lyric “you said you wanted me til you didn’t any more”. Plus, any song with a Clapclap Clap is a winner for me.

Every song was a hit, B Grade University, I Haven’t Been Taking Care of Myself’, Lotto in Reverse, Backpack and when she asked if we were OK with a cover, the answer was pretty plain to see. A rocked out version of Torn, complete with audience participation? Hell Yes!

Finishing up with a story about being so drunk in Adelaide they left their gear at the Hindley Street KFC, and a blistering performance of number 97 in last year’s triple j hottest 100 You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me. I have a pretty good feeling she’ll be ranking a fair bit higher this year.

Review by Carly Whittaker