First published on 1 Feb 2012. Updated on 25 Feb 2014.
Espousing a ditty by freak-folk warbler Devendra Banhart as her stage identity was perhaps an auspicious omen for Melbourne chanteuse Owl Eyes. She was destined for big, feathery things.
Despite remaining tight-lipped on her new single due for release in the coming weeks, Brooke Addamo, the sylph-like beauty behind the plumage, is happy to wax lyrical on the comely pastures of her beloved hometown. ”I love playing Melbourne… it does have a different feel to other states. It’s always scary because everyone has a million different choices, so to pull a crowd is harder – even if you are from Melbourne. You want to bring a crowd because it’s your hometown but you’re thinking, ‘oh this is on, and this is also on (tonight)’. Everyone has their own favourite places, and there’s always places I haven’t heard of, and new places popping up.”
One particular venue she certainly has heard of is the no-fuss Fitzroy favourite selected for our Friday afternoon catch-up. “I obviously love the Workers Club, it’s kinda sentimental. I did my first EP launch here, and it was packed and it was really sweaty and hot. It gets disgusting in there (gestures to bandroom), but everyone stayed and it was kinda like, ‘we’re in this together’, and I felt great! It was so packed… it was my first big showcase so it was really great. I love watching bands here as well, and eating here.”
Casting aside this understandable bias, the songbird counts her blessings for the profusion of Melbourne’s many splendoured venues. “Because I’ve got a big synth sound, I love big venues and I love smashing it out… I like playing the HiFi, it’s a bit more dirty and I really love the sound there.”
Which is not to say Addamo is strictly a big-bandroom girl. “I was really humbled when I played Northcote (Social Club) – two shows and they both sold out. It’s always nice to get that hometown recognition… and I love Pure Pop! I did a little set there and it was very small, there was about twenty people there. I just did a little acoustic thing, and that’s one of my favourite little gigs that I’ve done… they have really great toasties!”
With those venues under her belt, it’s easy to forget Addamo is still only 20 years old, and therefore capable of getting just as excited as the rest of us giddy gig-goers. “I did the Wombats tour and I played Festival Hall. I’ve seen so many bands there, you know, the Strokes, so it was cool to play there… that was probably my most exciting Melbourne show. You know, it’s Festival Hall!”
Albeit somewhat belated, it seems the Australian Idol beast has finally turned Rumpelstiltskin, churning out Aus-music gold in the way of Addamo and her now infamous stablemate, the irrefutably talented Matt Corby. Offstage, the diminutive Addamo admits to a few reservations of her own. “As a person going to watch music, I’d actually love to go to a gig and sit down, but when I’m playing a gig and everyone’s sitting down I feel a bit awkward… when you’re on stage you’re thinking ‘oh god, everyone’s really quiet’ but really they’re just listening and eating and whatever.”
Given she has performed the bulk of her recent sets to capacity crowds, including her scorcher at Pyramid Rock, we think she has little to worry about.
Owl Eyes plays The Famous Spiegeltent on Thursday 23 February. 7pm–8pm. $29.