We Chilled out to Ocean Alley at Riverstage Brisbane

Walking out to ‘Money for Nothing’ by Dire Straits is a memorable way to make an entrance and that is exactly what Ocean Alley did as they walked out to an adoring and pumped up crowd at Riverstage Brisbane. Tom O’Brien on drums wastes no time tapping his sticks together and launching everyone into  the band’s first song ‘Tombstone’ off their 2021 ‘Loney Diamond’ Album. It’s been a hot minute since crowds have been able to listen live to the sweet surfer sounds off this album, after Ocean Alley had to postpone this tour due to COVID. 

The individual bohemian carpets under each band member on stage, ensuring everyone is COVID protocol friendly no doubt also (for me) accentuates the chilled out vibes of each person on stage. Lead vocalist Baden Donegal sings us into ‘Way Down’ wearing a pale beret cap paired with a loose button down and jeans – his fashion sense is as cool, smooth and on point as his vocals. This crowd is emanating a glorious energy, as people all around me are slowly swaying side to side captivated by Baden’s voice. 

Curiously the band start playing ‘Yellow Mellow’ off their 2013 EP, the only fitting description I have is that it is a perfectly titled song, as it provides a mellow interlude between their more recent tracks. Baden takes a moment to thank DULCIE and Hockey Dad for starting the night out for the band, two incredible acts that I was grateful to witness before this set. 

Ocean Alley played us a few more tracks off their Lonely Diamond album including ‘Infinity’ and the album title track. The stage is a symphony of colour as the Ocean Alley lighting team pull out all the stops to mesmerise this audience. ‘The Comedown’ is their next song, the first we’ve heard tonight off their highly acclaimed Chiaroscuro album from 2018. 

“What is up guys? It feels like an absolute eternity since we’ve last seen you, we’ve missed you very much. It’s an absolute pleasure to be here tonight. Just a little side note,last night and tonight are the biggest headline shows we’ve done ever. So thank you so much for being a part of it.” Baden remarks,  as the stage lights up a beautiful sunset orange.  

It wouldn’t be an alternative psychedelic rock show without a little Pink Floyd thrown in the mix, as Ocean Alley intermingle Floyd’s  ‘Breathe (In the Air)’, ‘Comfortably Numb’ and ‘Money’ tracks next. A nostalgic blend which this crowd definitely appreciates, I see many heads bobbing and feet tapping to the familiar tunes. The Saxophone solo in Ocean Alley’s rendition of Floyd’s ‘Money’ track is such a spectacle to witness. 

The group runs through favourites like ‘Wet Dreams’, ‘Stained Glass’ next. As one of Australia’s most accomplished and exciting bands Ocean Alley is unafraid of this roaring crowd. Bringing some lighter energy into the set the band plays ‘Overgrown’ off their Chiaroscuro album next before playing their latest Hottest 100 success song ‘Touch Back Down’. 

What I love about this set is how Ocean Alley’s sound seamlessly transitions from songs off their 2018 album to their newer tracks as the band play off ‘Hot Chicken’, ‘All Worn Out’, ‘Rage’, ‘Partner in Crime’ and ‘Puesta de Sol’

A moment I personally have been waiting patiently for is their Hottest 100 #1 winning track ‘Confidence’. Thankfully my patience is rewarded as the stage is a sea of smoke and colour, the crowd goes wild as Confidence starts to play. I’m in total bliss and so is everyone in this crowd. 

Also I don’t know if you can call it a successful gig without at least one band member doing a shoey. Baden jest the crowd to pass him a shoe and gets his hands on a nike sneaker and craft beer, remarking ‘well I guess I’m the shoey guy now!’  before launching into ‘Happy Sad’ and filling out the last of their Lonely Diamond tracks with ‘Luna’. 

I don’t know if you’d call it saving the best for last, but Ocean Alley definitely left this set on a high note with easy sing-alongs ‘Baby Come Back’ and ‘Knees’. Ending their set with some fireworks you can tell they missed crowds and are making this a special night to remember for all of us in the audience. If you’re a fan of chilled out tunes Ocean Alley is the band for you, with memorable alt-rock anthems and progressive vocals from Baden it’s no wonder the band has more ‘Confidence’ than ever.