From the laughing packs of similarly-dressed teens and twenty-somethings lining the street outside through the packs of twenty and thirty-somethings crowding around the bar, up the stairs and to the smartly-dressed and attentive audience, Tessa and the Typecast have drawn a big crowd for such a small band; and for good reason. Once Goodnight Owl’s breathless set of plaintive lulls and intense crescendos fades, the stage is set for something incredibly special to take place.
Counting my self as at least vaguely informed about the Melbourne music scene, I would have expected someone to have told me about this band sometime between the release of their debut EP in 2008 and tonight’s release of their first single. Seeing a band so accomplished, full of odd twisting arrangements, remarkable musicianship, from Ballarat and with an average age seemingly in the late teens, the phrase ‘expect big things’ seems almost redundant. Playing songs from their EP and from forthcoming release it is the two songs featured on their single Painter and Something I Saw which steal the evening and highlight what it is that is so remarkable about this band. Firstly, Tessa Pavilach’s voice and stage presence is marvellous and not in the least inhibited. The band’s dynamic-laden structures and assured playing mean that when things need to get sensitive they get very sensitive, and when insensitivity is required, that is well and truly what you get.
It’s these louder moments that suggest fans of female performers with quirky voices don’t need to bide time for their favourite singer’s next album when TAT are around. Kate Miller-Heidke, Washington, Regina Spektor and Florence and the Machine are all names that have been thrown around this band in the past, but these references really don’t do justice. While all are inventive, driven performers who happen to have a knack for delving into slow, sensitive arrangements with the same verve as when attacking showstopping high notes, the selling point here is the guile and fresh-faced group dynamic that TAT work so well.
With the packed room so keen to hear every note and the reception so warm that Tessa gives the name of her house as the location for the after party and invites us all, tonight’s performance suggests that Yamaha keyboard will be swapped for a Steinway sooner rather than later.