Gig Review: ILUKA | The Grace Darling | Melbourne | 14.04.18

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A teeth chattering, autumn grey Saturday was very soon filled with sunshine from the sounds of sizzling Sydneysider ILUKA. ILUKA is currently on her six Aussie show tour for Ritual, tonight gracing a 19th century old Melbourne pub with flare.

Introducing herself in 2013 with her EP Paper Doll’, 2018’s Ritual is all about the present. ILUKA has left her musical footprint at the likes of Byron’s Bluesfest, Vivid Sydney’s event for Women in Music, and across miles of waters, playing gigs in France and New Caledonia.

Planted on a corner stage, two Melbourne bands Royal East and The Mamas are tasty appetizers for the night. Consisting of four mates, Royal East breaks the ‘first gig of the night’ seal, meshing well together as a group with their Southern California, modern day Beach Boy vibe and party-rock energy. ‘Say Hey’ draws listeners in as a fun, celebratory anthem for good times.

The Mamas sure did not disappoint with their addicting harmonies. Combining funky fem-hop, soul and shoulder bouncing choreography, this eight-piece group wowed everyone with ‘Sneans’ and a song about vegetable euphemisms. Together they shadow a witch’s cauldron of ‘Pitch Perfect’, ‘Dreamgirls’ and The Chordettes served in contemporary twang. Their keyboard ‘papa’ is pure talent, leaving us (and a far far away Elton John) jaw-dropped with his agile playing. 

ILUKA’s 11pm set congregates more people upstairs of the pub, where they shall expect to hear a mix of retro pop sounds (with a backstory) distributed by her mature beyond years voice that commands attention.

‘Ritual’ features some great sax and captivating instrumentals, a perfect sounding track to feature in a television advertisement for a new Australian ‘Offspring-esque’ drama series. Likewise, ‘Sympathy’ immediately hooks you in with jazzy, marching band flair – a track nodding to societal outcries to empower today’s generation to take a stand and raise their voices. There is no sax in the live version however her three-piece band is enough as a sufficient accompaniment.

“Now we’re all fighting for a sentimental victory, a shallow dream of how we imagined it to be”, she sings.

ILUKA’s set is a blend of fizzy creaming soda, blood orange velvet, a scattering of daisy chains and the crackle of a vintage TV playing 'Monster Mash'. ‘Sleeping for 20 Years’ is a title escapists can relate to, one certainly to fascinate. Upbeat on the surface, it has an underlying bittersweet “a restlessness inside” lyrical nature.

The crowd experienced an assortment of swanky tunes by ILUKA, ones to get you on your dancing feet and others to swirl you off into another state of being. Consistent with the quantity of music she’s put out this year and last, it will be interesting to hear how she’ll progress with her catalogue of songs.

Written by Sally Hui (@sally__hui)

You can catch ILUKA at these remaining dates:
20th April - Rad Bar, Wollongong 
21st April - Waywards, Sydney