Live review from Mellow Yellow
It’s hard for an audience to become absorbed in a performance when they can’t shake the feeling they’ve been short-changed. Singer-songwriter Kasa, better known as the frontman of Seasons for Change and Soul of Ears, had promised The Underground a set of “ambient electronica”, but ended up performing a few simple acoustic songs with his guitar instead. There’s no doubt that Kasa has a strong voice and competent playing ability, but his five ballads were not what the dwindling crowd had in mind.
Opener Our Last July evoked the work of Adam Green/ Owl City and Sam Tsui in its sensitive emotions and Americanised vocal style, while Face in the River was introduced as “a song written for Seasons for Change while I was living in Australia.” Emo guitar and the defiant lyrics “I’d rather be myself than live as someone else” should have awoken the teen angst within the room, but ended up coming off a bit like a mantra uttered on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
As Kasa’s show wore on, it became impossible to shed the illusion of teen-heartthrob boyband member gone solo. Settle dipped its toe into the poppier end of emo with densely-packed lyrics and a distinctive 5SOS/Fall Out Boy delivery. A cover of Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror could have been too camp or tedious, but was pulled off with flair. Using Ed Sheeran-style tippy-tappy guitar, Kasa brought something new to the classic ballad, and delivered a confident and lively rendition. This energy transferred to Up, an impassioned song addressed to the singer’s parents. “Is this what you meant when you said growing up?” the lyrics implored.
It would be out of character for Chris B not to award an encore to a night’s final act, and despite the late hour and slightly dry, monotonous set, Kasa signed off with a bluster of Oasis-influenced strumming and the grandiose line, “you’ll always be my thunder.”
It is both a privilege and a challenge to headline any Underground show: the act must be worthy of the top billing and do justice to the performances that came before. Unfortunately, Kasa’s rushed and occasionally slapdash set was overshadowed by the diverse talent of the other four bands. Kasa is a self-assured performer, who can apply his skill across the genres, but sadly didn’t live up to the hype this time. We look forward to seeing what he pulls out of the bag at his next UG gig – as long as he’s better-prepared.
– El Jay