Saturday night at The Sunshine Harvester Works was a truly unique night, something I’m sure everyone in attendance will not easily forget. Presented by 20 Talk and Across The Road Music, was a showcase of Perth artists and speakers sharing their experiences, struggles and advice with mental health. Featuring their openness and rawness in the beautiful and intimate setting were 20 Talk founders, Great Gable, Lilia, Abbe May, Meg Wheeler, Ellen Oosterbaan and Sara Salt.
Upon entry were a number of thought provoking activities, the first was a self evaluation exercise where we had the chance to vote on how often we check ourselves. Once a month, once a week, never, every couple of days or every day. Across the path was a phone surrender desk, encouraging you to sock your phone for the night, choosing to be more present for the event in exchange for a free beer. A sea container to the left of the stage contained walls of emotionally confronting questions for people to write their answers on, each activity proving to be a truly powerful and emotional experience.
As we sat down and started setting up our picnics and pouring ourselves a glass of wine, we were all certain we were in for a night that would be truly special. People were already speaking to each other more, talking to and meeting those around them and discussing the emotions that were running high with each new action. We were eager for the night to begin and it wasn’t long before the first act graced the stage.
Sara Salt was up first, they performed a beautifully delicate stripped back duo set with only Sara on electric guitar and Mird on Cello. The moody and emotional tracks were truly captivating with Sara’s flawless fluttering vocals and Mird’s heart pulling Cello movements and stunning accompany vocals. It was captivating to see the duo without the rest of the band, setting the scene for what was to be a special night filled with intimate moments between some of Perths most beautiful artists.
Before the next performance we were addressed by 20 Talk founders Lockie and Leighton. For those of you hearing about 20 Talk for the first time, it is a community of young men in their 20’s that meet regularly to talk about their emotions and take responsibility for their journey. The organisation is especially highlighted around suicide and the social stigmas around masculinity, something I think we can all agree is something this whole world could benefit from.
Lockie and Leighton each took turns explaining what 20 Talk meant to them and why they decided it was important to create such a beautiful platform. Listening to the hardships these two had been through by losing loved ones to suicide really hit home for me and put into persepctive how important it is to communicate and ‘start the conversation’ with people that you love and care about. If you feel like yourself or someone you know may benefit from something like this, the 20 Talk community meet at the Indian Ocean Hotel every Monday evening.
After a short break full of conversation and discussion the stage was graced with the incredible Meg Wheeler. Starting off her set with a small opening chat about her songwriting process, especially around the emotions she feels and understands when reflecting on her songs after they have been written. She chose to explain her journeys through her music and performed to what was one of the most captivated crowds I have seen in a while. Her bluesy progressions, smooth and delicate vocals and journey style of songwriting had everything to do with it.
Ellen Oosterbaan (lead singer of Oosterbanger) was up next, not to share her music but to speak with us and share her experience with mental health. She painted an overview of her relationship with mental illness since she was a young teenager as well as some tools she uses with her friends to overcome her down periods and understand when you may be spiraling. It was a beautiful and brave speech that enlightened us about the importance of self awareness and a solid support network.
Lilia was next with their full band and killed it with their brand new bass player. As a solid Lilia fan I’ve got to admit that I am pretty bias, but it would be hard to find a person there that wasn’t completely lost in Lilia's dreamy vocals and completely tight outfit that night. Their soft guitar licks and steady grooves send you on a smooth carpet ride through oceans of clouds and colour. Do not miss the release of ‘Mrs Jones’ next month (details here).
Bringing us back to the conversation was Abbe May, performing an incredibly moving set. She intertwined her musical stories with the experiences she’s had with mental illness, through her personal life and her career. It was enlightening, humorous and honest. As she described her struggles and personal remedies for us, I sat there feeling completely humbled to experience such a popular artist in a completely raw and intimate setting. It felt very lucky to be a part of the stories she shared with us. My favourite part of the evening and something I will honestly never forget.
Then Great Gable hit the stage.. This was also very special, not only because each of the members took turns in describing what the event meant to them, but because it’s hard to know if there will be another opportunity to see this outfit in a setting like we did on Saturday. Being so used to seeing these guys on a loud stage, in their element, without a worry in the world, to all of a sudden completely out of their comfort zone, and a little nervous in the exposed setting was truly captivating.
Gable shared three new and fantastic songs with us, as well as played some of our favourites, starting with ‘Cool Mind Blue’, a track about feeling different on the inside to what you are showing people on the outside. Alex’s beautiful vibrating vocals sent shivers down your spine with every phrase, accompanied with his and Matt’s luscious guitars, Chris’s buttery bass and fashionably driven drum movements from Cal. Another 30 minutes of my life that will be hard to forget.
Sincerely, thank you to every artist for opening up to us, Across The Road Music and The Sunshine Harvester Works for organising this unique experience and 20 Talk for creating such a valuable platform. I’m sure I can speak for everyone in attendance by saying it was an unforgettable night that left me feeling completely touched. I hope to see more events like this in the future.
Reviewer - Keeley Connolly
Photography - Across The Road Music