A line made up of predominantly overexcited college students stretched from the tinted windows of the Black Cat to Manny & Olga’s Pizza down the block for the sold-out Matt Corby show. Once inside and eager to see the Sydneysider musician at what is usually a punk and rock ’n’ roll venue, everyone crowded tightly by the stage in anticipation.
A Father John Misty song filled the room from the speakers in the front as the audience waited. What was supposed to be just a “Black Cat Backstage” show not only made it to the main stage room, but actually packed the black-and-white checkered floors. A few college kids chanted Corby’s name while others discussed how long they had been waiting to see the man behind the hit singles “Brother” and “Resolution.”
Before his performance, a band called Overcoats came out to play their set of mellow and repetitive-themed melodies with ill-fitting and strange ambient vibrations and bass lines played on a drum machine by a touring musician. The crowd was completely silent at first, unsure if they dug the performance from the duo wearing slip dresses and not actual overcoats, or not. But after the first verse, the audience members up front cheered loudly, praising the Holychild-like tracks and harmonies. The concertgoers in the back of the room were heard faintly, chattering to each other absentmindedly.
The college kids did not have to chant for long. Corby stepped out, walking casually to the microphone.
“You’re all so close,” Corby said about the crowd’s proximity to the stage.
He asked for patience, as the set to come was made up of mostly new, unreleased songs. Without ever having released a proper LP, Corby’s fame comes as a surprise to most. The crowd screamed as he dove into the first song a cappella, his snapping tracks and cooing loops recorded and played all on stage. Despite Corby’s request, a minority of the crowd seemed to be too noisy with their praise, overpowering his vocalization and seeming to disrupt some of the jazz flow and swing.
Corby’s full and heavy voice ultimately won the battle to be heard, the bridge of “Monday” coming in loudly while a band took their places at the instruments in the back. The swirling groove of “Do You No Harm” was penetratingly blues-y.
A contrast to the opening act, Corby sang “Belly Side Up” in his higher range with a consistent deep voice as the band played a funky, soul beat in the background that smoothly and seamlessly fit the track. The subsequent songs were so loud that the obnoxious cheering lost its insufferable influence and everything was right in the world.
Corby showed his familiarity with different genres as he scatted in between lyrics, later picking up a guitar to spit out some wonky riffs straight from a psychedelic Grateful Dead jam.
“I’m giving up this whole lie,” Corby sang as the crowd squealed at the start of an obvious favorite song.
Corby lost himself in “Resolution,” appearing to no longer be conscious of the crowd as they sang along to the chorus. In the last verse, the band layered their instrumentation nicely, turning their sound into a full orchestra for that moment. At the top of the stage with his hands ready to move with each changing interval of intonation, Corby started to sing “Wrong Man,” starting over after he claimed to forget the words.
The end of the night came with “Empire,” Corby borrowing the flute from a band member to play a quick solo. The music kept going and Corby streamed into a cover to end on—Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.” Singing the King of Soul’s lyrics, Corby’s dedication to music, not just his talent, was apparent.
Photo courtesy of The Daily Telegraph