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Live Review: Ball Park Music at Sidney Myer Music Bowl 12/03/21

Supported by Thelma Plum and Alice Ivy

Sidney Myer Music Bowl has transformed into a socially distant space to host us tonight to celebrate the return of live music in Melbourne. The stalls have been changed to tiered café-style tables for guests and the lawn area is filled with private decks on a raised platform for groups to sit, stand or dance as they please. It’s a great concept that allows a great vantage point of the stage no matter where you’re situated.

We may be separated by bars of metal but Alice Ivy (aka Annika Schmarsel) gets the party started tonight with an energetic performance as she bounces around the stage with excitement from one instrument to the next to create plenty of infectious beats. Her animated gestures and lively set keeps us on our toes and moving along to her non-stop tunes. It would’ve been special to hear Thelma Plum sing live vocals on their collaboration ‘Ticket To Heaven’ but Schmarsel tells us she’s busy getting ready so she plays live instruments over Plum’s recorded vocals instead.

A brightly lit backdrop with big yellow sunflowers lights up the stage to welcome Thelma Plum. “I’m new to this festival thing during COVID. I haven’t been doing this for a long time and this is my first gig in ages,” she says. She puts her nerves aside and delivers some beautifully sweet vocals of some of her recent songs from her debut album including ‘Not Angry Anymore’ and ‘Better in Blak.’

Plum continues with many of her charming pop hits with emotion and honesty that manages to turn some of her traumatic life experiences and awkward moments into strong, positive anthems. Plum provides some hilarious banter as opens up about one song in particular called ‘Nick Cave’ that she wrote about a time she lied about being a vegan to impress a boy – that is until she put her hand up for some antipasto prosciutto. “It didn’t work out but at least I have this song,” she jokes.

“We are going to give you fucking everything tonight Melbourne!” Are you ready to experience incredible music? “shouts Ball Park Music. They zoom through their enormous catalogue full of fun, easily relatable and upbeat indie-pop anthems for the crowd to sing along to at the top of their voices. Hailing from Brisbane, tonight marks the first time performing songs from their sixth self-titled album to a Melbourne audience.

From the jaunty ‘Spark Up!’ to chaotic instrumentals on ‘Bedroom’ and the charmingly intimate hit ‘Cherub,’ the band gets the crowd grooving along to their syncopated funk and percolating beats to create a whole lot of good vibes. After speeding through the set the crowd beckons an encore by stamping their feet on the decks. They return for a huge finish as we party along to the hectic track ‘Hands Off My Body’ complete with dizzying strobe lights and non-stop dancing for the last three minutes.

Words by Michael Prebeg