Thursday, 7 December 2017

WE ARE LIGHTNING! - Arts House, North Melbourne

WE ARE LIGHTNING!
Photo by Bryony Jackson

Welcome to the final night of the Town Hall, a live-music venue that’s about to be replaced by an apartment building or a hotel or some kind of progress that feels more like the loss of art and soul.

WE ARE LIGHTNING! was standing-room only at Arts House last night; the opening night of this new work by Joseph O’Farrell and Sam Halmarack. It’s a communal experience for the audience, as well as the many, many performers who help to celebrate the end of an era through a night of singing and dancing.

It’s a sad phenomenon that has infected many cities across the world; live music venues closed to accommodate burgeoning populations and to appease noise complaints. The show itself is a celebration of how live experience builds a community and the loss they feel when a pub, a club or a space closes down.

JOF and Sam welcome us to the final night, the bouncers scan us and stamp us as we’re ushered in and we stake out a place to watch a series of performers play and sing and rock out and protest the loss of this space we’re in. There’s a three-piece band, a choir, a brass band and a teenage emo band who are getting to play their first gig in one of the few places that will let them step up.

This show takes a scatter-gun approach to embracing and scorning nostalgia. And the cacophony of sounds here is both exhilarating and enervating. I have watched spaces close and disappear, robbed of their artistic merit and intent. This show is both a celebration and a commemoration; it made me happy and it made me sad.


But at its heart, WE ARE LIGHTNING wants you to rock out one last time. And that’s reason enough to get along.


WE ARE LIGHTNING! community choirs
Photo: Bryony Jackson

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