Hollow Coves, Alexander Biggs @ Jive, Adelaide 17/1/2020

Ethereal and simply beyond this world. The Aussie indie-folk duo known as Hollow Coves have captured the solemn hearts and minds those who came to see their show in Adelaide’s Jive on the cool Friday night.

Opening the concert for them was indie artist Alexander Biggs, who set the sombre stage with his 2019 single, Miserable. Following this, he called for recognition of the bushfire tragedies that have wrought devastation throughout the nation’s environment and its people, and dedicated his next few songs to the changes he hopes to see. His 2017 Figure It Out, along side a rendition of Amazing Grace and recent single Madeleine put on display Biggs’ raw vocals alongside his undeniable acoustic talent. And though he did attribute his husky singing voice to a recent sickness, it did not deter the Melbourne artist from adorning his folky tones with true – if not truer – emotion, and easing the crowd through a soothing and heartfelt performance.

After a short intermission which was filled with an overhead ambience of tracks by Ben Howard, a sweeping anticipation quietened the floor as the lights lit up Jive’s iconic red-curtained stage, and the boys came out to a roar of hoots, cheers and applause.

For artists so early in their musical careers – with their debut EP Wanderlust arriving just three years ago – their soundscape is mellow, earthy and yet remarkably refined. Where Matt Cairn’s love of all things sound and song come from his family’s diverse musical roots, Ryan Henderson’s appreciation of the indie-folk genre was quoted to have been propelled by a spontaneous attendance of an Angus and Julia concert in his younger years.

From the sudden popularity of their first Soundcloud hit, The Woods, the prodigious journey of Hollow Coves has only sky-rocketed since. Five years on and five million online replays later, the Gold Coast duo find themselves at the helm of 2020 on their Aussie and soon-to-come international tour, featuring their full-length debut album, Moments.

They begin the night with We Will Run, with Ryan and Matt and lulling away at their mellow acoustics and gentle vocals until English drummer and ‘banana-shaker’ Tom Bradshaw rounds up the chorus, alongside their fourth member Ryan Cairns on bass, in an explosive and breathtaking start to the Hollow Coves night.

A sense of wistfulness and liveliness abounds the venue, as the crowd clap and sway to their next album hits: Borderlines, When We Were Young and Ran Away. There is a tenderness that pervades each song of their Moments album, and where the atmospheres of these songs can be felt in their studio recordings, the band simply brought an incomparable vivacity and life to their songs to the live stage.

Through their acoustic performances of Home and Beauty In The Light, both Ryan’s vocal brilliance and Matt’s dynamic harmonies let audiences know why so many have latched onto the Hollow Coves train. Smiles of appreciation lit the face of Ryan and Matt as we sang along to the choruses we knew, and smiles of awe were plastered on the rest of us as they in turn brought us something magical.

With a dimming of blue stage lights and announcement their last song of the night, the crowd could never have expected what was to come. Following an electrifying performance from Matt’s guitar-playing in Adrift, the crowd was asked mid-way through the song to crouch down and jump up on the shout of ‘3-2-1-Go!’– and we all did just that. It came as an explosion of dancing, clapping and singing, bringing Ryan to lead the crowd through the song’s finale. As he belted – in almost rock-star fashion – the final lines of Adrift with all his might, the kick-drum, electric and bass guitars and jaw-dropping vocals crescendo into a harmonious euphoria felt to the core by every dancing soul in the room, rounding off the reverberating experience for all whom were able to witness.

The double encore saw Coastline prefaced in amusing context, with Ryan describing the producer’s mistake in titling the song – not as ‘Coastline’ but rather ‘Toast-line’. In an act of self-reflective comedy, the song began with Ryan singing, “I’m leaving home for the toast-line,” gaining a few giggles of approval from the crowd, followed lastly by Anew, a song with sincere origins, dedicated to those struggling with their own personal demons.

Through an earnest retelling of their mountain-trekking adventures in Norway, one which sparked an epiphany between the two boys, Matt left the audience with a final thought. “There is so much we could be doing with our lives, if we gave ourselves the opportunity … to make these moments last.”

“So climb a mountain, see a live music show, do what makes you remember, for those are the moments that make it worth it” – and indeed, these sentiments rang all too true with the show that Hollow Coves put on for their audience tonight.

Live Review By Phi Nguyen