Mercury Sky @ The Factory Theatre, Marrickville (24 November 2016)

There are a few experiences in life that rate higher than being unexpectedly told “Actually, you’re on the door for this gig, you don’t have to pay”.

Sweet.

Such was the experience for me at last night’s Mercury Sky gig at The Factory Theatre in Marrickville.

The lead singer of Mercury Sky is my long-time school friend, Kay Thatch.  I’ve been to several of his gigs over the years (usually at Leichhardt’s Bald-Faced Stag) and I always take great pleasure in seeing how this band has evolved, grown and tightened.

That’s where Viva comes in.  With an app like Viva, more people can discover gigs, get out to them, and support local artists (even if the entry is free…).  The story of the band could be told and experienced through Viva.

In this chapter of their story, Mercury Sky were touring the release of their new single, “SleepDreamWake”.  What I love most about Mercury Sky is how distinct each of the members are on stage, which is reflected in the variety of influences, sounds and shifts in each of their songs.  This is a band that can be frantic, aggressive and loud, and then suddenly quiet and calm.  They experiment, they take musical risks, and I think it makes for an exciting, refreshing interpretation of the Australian brand of progressive rock/metal (think Karnivool, Dead Letter Circus, Cog etc).

Keiran Lovett’s playing style is sharp, jagged, melodic, blistering but always calculated. Josh Vernon on rhythm guitar was probably having the most fun, grinning gleefully during most of the set, and at one stage abandoning the group to go for a wander in the audience mid-song. Tom Bergman, the band’s new bass player, made an impression on the crowd (you know someone’s pro at what they do when they sound that good, do it comfortably and make it look so easy), playing in perfect tandem with Keiran Berry’s precision, dynamic drumming.

Yes, this is a tight band.

And then there is Kay doing what he loves – wrestling an anaconda microphone lead that wraps itself around him as he writhes about on stage, donning his best “I ❤ L Ron Hubbard” shirt, skinny chinos tucked into the top of big black boots.

Yes, those are tight chinos.

Kay’s voice is a stand out feature of Mercury Sky.  It’s high (very high – see comment re chinos above), capable of glass shattering shrieks but always strangely beautiful (“Vanitas” and “SleepDreamWake” are good examples).  The contrast of his voice against the controlled chaos and crash of the instrumentation is powerful, as demonstrated by the applause and chorus of audience “wow”s after each song.

After the gig, an audience member approached Kay, shook his hand and said, “That was a sick show, you’ve got an incredible range.”

Kay replied, “Yeah, all that time singing in the shower, it really worked”.

Zinger.

Mercury Sky is growing in following, and Viva shares this trait in common.  I spoke with Kay’s friend (she was also in the crowd last night and played in another band) about what makes a young band successful.

“You have to run it like a business and it’s all about marketing – who’s your audience, what’s your image, what’s your sound. Stay true to those things until you make it,” she said.

Viva has much to learn from the music world, I think!

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