‘Garden Sounds’ @ the Botanic Gardens, Sydney

What do you/I want on a Sunday?… Maybe late to rise, some Earl Grey tea, followed by a perfect, funky programme of live music, in a beautiful setting, with friends, hot sun, and a good gin and tonic?… You’re damn straight.

Beginning at 12pm, this Sunday gig in Sydney’s beautiful Botanic Gardens was my idea of a fine time. Still blurry from Saturday night, the line-up was too good to miss on my favourite day of the week.

Government House was open for viewing, the temperature rose, the kids laughed. Relaxed but prominent security made for one of the most enjoyable vibe’s I’ve experienced in Sydney (including the daytime festivals).

Mr Percival hosted the event, with quick humour and a soulful voice that surprised a few people. Rastawookie were first up, and although I missed their set, I was told it was very good, and went down really well – lots of dancing people. They’re taking a break for a bit after this gig to pursue some solo directions, and this was apparently a great way to bow out.

I arrived just as The Bamboos arrived on stage, in true dapper style. Then melted under the temperature hike. Their call for people to ‘cross the white line’ (a rather novel cordoned area in front of the stage, mosh-pit tastic!), got a few us up there for some good clean fun, and everyone else soon followed. The professionalism and inspired improvisation from these talented muso’s had everyone busting grooves they thought they’d forgotten they had. Smiles all round, and the friendly, feeling-good-on-a Sunday atmosphere, made this one hell of a perfect Sunday afternoon set.

The Bamboo Horns were in particularly good form, with long, convoluted jazz-funk solos, which I suspect they could have continued for hours. Exhibiting superior skills and mashing up tracks from the newest album, all the players and vocalist Kylie Audlist held it together under the unforgiving sun. Plenty of protection and a few tunes on, the Botanic Gardens bopped and clapped in time, as the Bamboos wrapped up and Mr Percival joined them on stage. This made for quite the novel finale, as he took control of the band and ushered in extra solos from the instrumentalists. He called Kylie back on stage and proceeded to duet, with (I think) a little improv backing. Ending by reminding everyone to respect the place, and give the newly elected government a go.

Rhombus came on after a break, and got involved immediately with some deep-dub dance-hall. PERFECT! Political as usual – and what an appropriate day for it. A ‘Head up high’ remix, went down beautifully, as the temperature started dropping into evening. Soulful, deep, slow, hot and sweaty, we slid seamlessly into chilled down-beat and Sunday-lounge vibes… and then along came the skanking! A multitude of vocal leads and swapping of styles comes natural to this crew. It was feet up double-time dancing, and everyone got involved. In an ode to improv and trying something new, Rhombus then pulled out a tune that had the layout in the studio as-yet-undecided. Sharing it with this crowd on this day, was great. “You will never witness this moment again!” Look out for new material from these guys, it may not sound as you remember…

It was a Sunday. The sun shone for first time in three days. The food was great, it couldn’t have been much better. This gig is a must-go. Grab a picnic blanket, some good friends and a G n’ T and enjoy the Garden Sounds next time, fingers crossed…

Lady KMD