What better way to finish off summer than with friends and family, a picnic basket and rug set up across a grassy area of the Melbourne Zoo with local talents Josh Pyke and Thelma Plum playing in the background.
The Aussie singer-songwriters performances were part of the zoo’s twilight concert series featuring local and international artists from the last week of January through to the first week of March each year. The concerts are put on by the zoo to raise awareness of their fight against wildlife extinction. The price of the ticket includes zoo entry – with certain areas of the zoo open for extended hours for ticket holders – and zookeepers conduct talks on different animals before the commencement of the performances.
Opening the night for Pyke was Triple J favourite and Indigenous chanteuse Thelma Plum. Her set was filled with sweet folksy songs backed by an acoustic guitarist even when singing about her ex-boyfriend. She chatted a little with the crowd telling them that she got to go on a VIP tour of the zoo earlier in the day with the opportunity to feed Mali, the zoos infamous elephant. She acted a bit insecure saying things like I can’t believe you came here earlier to see me perform. This all seemed a bit silly as she has a harmonious and unique voice and is gorgeous.
Upon seeing the crowd that had gathered to see Pyke relax us with his vocals, Pyke told the crowd “This is the biggest crowd I’ve had, not the biggest crowd Ive played to but the biggest crowd that has come to see me.” He added lightheartedly, “I blame it on the kids, they bulk the numbers up.” He later thanked the crowd for passing his music onto the next generation – the kids – who he dubbed as ‘pyke-lets’. 3500 people were in attendance.
Content with still playing on ten years on from the commencement of his music producing, Josh Pyke performed tracks ranging from 2002’s “Silver”, as requested by his fans, to many tracks off his 2013 release The Beginning and the End of Everything.
Grateful, yet again, Pyke was astonished to have made it into this years Triple J Hottest 100 with “Leeward Side” at number 88 and thanked his fans for voting it in before launching into the song. The folksy song was a highlight of the night with it’s harmonica intro, acoustic loop and echoing harmonised vocals.
Despite performing by himself the entire night it sounded like Pyke had a choir and full band behind him as he looped his vocals, drum beats and other musical noises throughout his set.
Interaction and conversation played a huge part of the night for Pyke as he spoke with the crowd about the VIP tour of the zoo he did with Plum earlier in the day; told the crowd about touring with The Jezabels before they were big, and even made claim to ‘breaking them.’ Not one for usually covering other artist songs, he decided to perform their most famous tune,”Endless Summer“; joked that this divulgence of information was how he was killing time tuning up his guitar; When a fan heckled him by yelling out pivotal, he repeated the word a couple of times looping it with his guitar pedal, before launching into the cover; and before he performed “Middle of the Hill” he gave the crowd permission to dance to the track as it’s his only danceable one. He stated that his next album will have to be a dance-y one just like Skrillex because he has to ‘keep up with the times’. The track was not easy to dance to at all.
It wasn’t just the songs and Pyke’s interaction with the crowd that kept the fans content, humour played a big part in tonight’s performance; after encouraging the crowd to conduct a Mexican wave he told them they did it shit.
After performing for an hour he said that he decided to play overtime until he got booted off. He stayed put for another 20 minutes.
Overall, the night was a relaxing and enjoyable experience with many adoring fans lining up after the set to meet the local troubadour. He was equally as excited to hang out with his fans signing memorabilia and allowing them to have their photo taken with him. No animal noises were heard throughout the night and the only sighting of any animal was the bats flying above the crowd.