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Published June 29, 2013

Last night I got the pleasure of seeing not one, but two shows at the Melbourne Cabaret Festival. It was kind of a massive evening. Let’s dive in.

6:30pm, arrive at the Butterfly Club. The Butterfly Club is a cosy little venue of Little Collins Street; the enterprising soul will wander through a dingy back-alley, up a flight of stairs, and find a quaint little lounge, where thirst gazelle gather at the waterhole to enjoy a cocktail or two. The staff are friendly, helpful, and courteous.

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7pm, curtains up. Or shuffled aside a little. It’s a small room.

Sarah Gaul presents FACE, a collection of creative mashups and original songs – in her own words, her “procrastinatory efforts” – but that’s okay, because Rhianna didn’t write her own songs either. I am a huge fan of a well done cover or clever mashup, and Sarah certainly hits the mark; her version of Lana Del Rey’s “Chelsea Hotel No. 2” to Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is beautiful. And I much care for Lana Del Rey. She’s cottoned on to the theme that all her favorite songs are about “…wanting to be with/have sex with/marry someone but for a miriade of reasons can’t or can’t anymore…”, and uses that to excellent effect.

Her original songs? They’re hilarious. Her song “Alone” is about that feeling a dog gets when you leave home with suitcases and it sits by the door, or that feeling you get when all your housemates are out and you’re just sitting at home. “AVO” is about breakups and the fine line between coincidence and creepy – it gets dark, but not as you’d expect – and a particular favorite of mine is about what happens when you fail to read the signs and invite someone who rides their bike from bikram yoga to dinner. Yes, it goes in the EXACT direction you’d think.

8:10pm, relaxing with a beer. In deference to the fact I got in to the show in a semi-official capacity, it is a LIGHT beer. Never let it be said I don’t make sacrifices for my art. Contented murmurings from my fellow audience members; the show was a hit!

From about 9:00 until 9:50pm, I find myself hopelessly lost in the backstreets of South Melbourne. No, it wasn’t the beer, I fail at geography; I seriously cannot overstate how exceptionally poor my sense of direction is. My thanks to the very kind lady who went absolutely above and beyond the call of duty to help me out and set me right.

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The Bohemia Cabaret Club is our next venue, and I kind of swooned a little at the 1920s fashion and the barmaid who asked me, “what’ll it be, darl?”. Mia Mia brings us Coffee and Cigarettes which is about habits, regret, addiction, and taking off your clothes. Allusions are cleverly weaved into the narrative; I might be over analyzing, but are the five steps down the drive the five stages of loss and grief? It’s about the realities of who you are, and who you want to be, and the struggle to make it work.

It should also be mentioned there is some salacious lingerie. I mentioned “taking off your clothes” above? That happens. But it’s art, so no one is a perv. And yes, I am aware how sketchy this paragraph sounds.

11:40pm post show Vodka and Coke. Oh shush, it’s a real drink.

THE BREAKDOWN:

Who

  • Sarah Gaul
  • Mia Mia

What

  • Brilliantly played piano and occasional swearing
  • Addiction, be it to Coffee, Cigarettes, or sex

When

  • FACE is Sunday 30 June, 6pm
  • Coffee and Cigarettes is on Friday 5 July, 7:30pm, and Saturday 6 July, 10:30pm

Where

  • The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, CBD
  • The Bohemia Cabaret Club, 226-228 Conventry Street, South Melbourne

How Much

  • FACE is $20 full, $18 concession and groups of 6+
  • Coffee and Cigarettes is $23 full, $20 concession

Both show are part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival.

About the Author

New York, London, Paris, Munich, Nick Jones is talking ’bout Pop Music.

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