IF we have entered the post-album era as many nihilistic music company types would have you believe, then you could argue Boo Seeka were born for these times.
Just over a year after Newcastle’s Ben Gumbleton united with Sydney DJ Sam Croft amid the ashes of folk-rock band Benjalu, Boo Seeka have released four singles. The drip-fed approach to releasing their music digitally has worked wonders. All four songs - Kingdom Leader, Deception Bay, Fool and Oh My have been warmly rotated on Triple J and have built real momentum. Kingdom Leader, their debut single, even polled 50th on the Triple J’s Hottest 100 in January. Of course it doesn’t hurt that Boo Seeka’s pop-laden electronic soul perfectly fits the musical zeitgeist the youth-based national broadcaster is currently promoting to the moon.
Their Cambridge Hotel show was a triumph. It was the first time in 18 months that the Newcastle West venue has sold out a week in advance and the young audience came to dance and let loose. Even before Boo Seeka’s set the jubilant crowd entertained themselves by singing “Heyyyyyy baby, I wanna know if you’ll be my girl?”
The bearded hair-bun sporting Gumbleton and short hair clean-shaven Croft were polar opposites on stage, despite both wearing black singlets. Gumbleton often appeared under the trance of a snake charmer’s flute as he convulsed to the music while singing and strumming his synthesised electric guitar. Croft was steady and consistent as he provided the beats and soundscapes from his mixing desk.
The first thing that struck about Boo Seeka is Gumbleton’s soulful honeyed vocals. The man can seriously sing. The old blues and roots influences from Benjalu remain, but he never attempted any vocal gymnastics like Matt Corby. Instead Gumbleton crooned along accompanying the music, never dominating it.
There’s always the challenge of how to sustain a show when you’ve released just four songs. Boo Seeka never suffered from that issue. Of course the singles attracted the heaviest applause, but Gumbleton and Croft proved there’s plenty of quality left for their upcoming debut album later this year. If anything, the unreleased material sounded heavier and more electronic.
Oh My was the first of the singles to receive an airing three songs in and then Deception Bay created the biggest buzz with its anthemic pop chorus. It had women and men sitting on their mates’ shoulders, swaying and singing in unison. Gumbleton knows where his bread is buttered and he gave a special plug to Triple J for its support of the duo, which was met with warm applause from the audience.
The show wasn’t without fault. At one stage when Gumbleton and Croft were both working the turntables they mucked up a song part. But with a laugh and smile, they restarted the tune and nobody in the room appeared to mind.
Fool was saved for the closing song and it was an inspired choice. It is Boo Seeka’s most interesting track, driven by a cinematic sample. There was no encore, which was understandable when you’ve only released four tracks.
Gumbleton initially began Boo Seeka as a side project to Benjalu, but it has swiftly outstripped his old band in popularity and musical scope. The time is ripe for Boo Seeka’s debut album.