Stunning voice, sly wit, and blithely Bohemian
By Joana Simmons
Indie. Urban Dictionary defines it as “an obscure form of rock which you only learn about from someone slightly more hip than yourself”. Wikipedia says it “is a shortform of “independence” or “independent” and it may refer to social action, collections of individuals creating media for change”. In Jessamae St James’ new work Not Another Indie Cabaret, through her sweet harmonics, live-looping and full-power vocals she has the sold-out opening night audience with her the whole way through her self-deprecating reflection, celebration of wine and what it makes you do on ebay, and shout out to times when she is being an actual adult.
Jessamae begins by live-looping an epic opening number which involves playing four instruments and satirical lyrics detailing all the clichés you see in cabaret. Does she even indie? Clearly. See, she is on a mission not to perform ‘just’ another indie cabaret. She wants to exceed expectations, and boy, does she ever. From the moment she opens her mouth, I am swept up in her voice and her sparkly stage presence. The satirical storytelling and original songs accompanied by obscure instruments (enter omnichord and trumpet kazoo) have us applauding and laughing in equal measure. The transitions between singing and speaking are slick, and she dives in and out of song in a way that makes me wonder if it’s going to be different every night, it’s that natural. Her skill range is mega: relaxed witty banter, poems that have great set-up and even better pay-off and a cluster of fantastic props she made herself. There are many great moments in this show- my favourites being the spoken word piece about being gluten-free (soooo indie, or s’indie; as the cool kids say apparently) and the song about singing mezzo soprano- I mean, it wouldn’t be a cabaret without one.
Being Fringe, tech and set up time is minimal, and the minor glitch that the show did have with Mavis, her loop machine, was handled so professionally I wasn’t actually sure whether it was all part of the performance. The limited amount of lights in The Butterfly Club’s intimate downstairs theatre were used very well to help set the various tones, though at one point I found it a little difficult to see the artist. The sound was seamless – with backing tracks magically weaving into her live accompaniment. Director Steven Gates (Tripod) ought to be very chuffed as it all came together in a tight glittery bow.
We are lucky to have so much talent and variety bubbling in the Melbourne Fringe Cabaret cauldron. If you are lucky, you will get a ticket to this one- it’s a refreshing look and delicious night out. Jessamae St James’ authentic artistry combined with her killer voice means this show is definitely not ‘just’ another Indie Cabaret.
The Butterfly Club presents NOT ANOTHER INDIE CABARET
VENUE: The Butterfly Club
Carson Place, Off Little Collins Street, Melbourne
DATES: Tuesday 20 – Sunday 25 September, 2016 The Butterfly Club
TIME: 8.30pm (50 minutes)
TICKETS: Tickets $25 – $32
Image by Rachel Mia