Oscar Key Sung, one half of Oscar + Martin, has been making waves with his solo project for a while now. On Saturday night he launched his latest free single ‘It’s Coming’ at The Toff, supported by Naminé and Habits, to an eager, and somewhat eclectic, gathering of adoring fans. DJ sets from Luke Pocock between bands made sure that everyone kept dancing all night.

Habits opened up the night with their own brand of experimental electro with a pop twist. Their set was like a rollercoaster, rapidly changing genres at every chance and reflecting their very varied influences, which seemed to include Aphex Twin and Crystal Castles amongst others. They combined brilliantly effected vocals, samples and beats to create a mish mash of sounds that shouldn’t work together but seem to anyway. Connolly’s vocals are the glue that hold it together: he has an exceptional voice that he regularly uses as an instrument in itself. His talent is such that he could probably make it a fair way through X-Factor or Idol but I’m so glad that he’s choosing to do this instead. They’ve only been around since February this year and maybe they haven’t quite decided what they want to be, but I don’t think it matters. They just want to party and their fans want to party with them.

Next up on the bill was Naminé, Darcy Baylis’ fantastic dance project. His sounds could have come straight from the ’80s, combining swirling synths with analog drums. The songs were cleverly crafted, utilising layers and layers of simple rhythms to create intricate beats to which Baylis added his wonderful vocals. He had a few opportunities to show off his impressive falsetto, but mostly chose to stay in a lower register which worked beautifully with the songs. There was no need for a break between most of his tracks, Baylis and his two companions just let the beats continue on to the next song, making adjustments to the tempo as they went. The lyrics lifted straight from Pocahontas in the closing track was a nice, albeit odd, touch to a wonderful set.

Oscar graced the stage at around 10:15, letting his majestic soundscapes and trip-hop beats loose on the crowd, only to reign them back in with his captivating R&B inspired vocals. His solo work really illuminates his skills as a producer, while not losing any emphasis from his talent as a singer. Some of the songs were a beautiful experiment with minimalism while others were as close to straight R&B as you can get. He played a few songs that focused on the instruments rather than his voice, and I found myself thinking that all he needed to do was add an MC to the mix and he’d have a unique hip-hop experience. It was around this time that he welcomed HTML Flowers to the stage to perform ‘We Don’t Hide’ from their Picture Tape EP the two released as Brothers Hand Mirror last month.

I was amazed to discover that Melbourne has a kind of ‘underground pop’ scene, with the crowd reminding me of James St. James and Michael Alig’s Club Kids from New York in the ’90s, minus the excessive drug use and homicide. These three artists all seem to fit perfectly, while differing in their sound, they all seem to share a common idea – come out and dance.

Lee Snipes

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