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Review: Safia tear the roof off The Factory Theatre

Safia have been tearing their way through the Australian music scene in recent months. After releasing just five songs, they managed to sell out three consecutive nights at Sydney’s Factory Theatre, where they played on Thursday. But their warm up act may have risen to success even quicker.

Little more than one year ago, Boo Seeka hadn’t yet even indulged the possibility of making music together. But one year on and one massive single later, the boys have already completed a European tour with a national tour on the cards.

With drinks flowing at the Factory Theatre, Boo Seeka ripped through their set in front of a packed crowd. Discharging a disarming beat as they oozed with confidence, they played their famed single Kingdom Leader while also treating the crowd to a taste of their new material. Throughout their set, they expertly layered textured synth with deceptive hip-hop and R&B influences and roused the crowd with vocals tinged with an unusual twang.

By the time Safia came on stage to a room plunged in darkness, excitement levels were peaking. An enormous metronome ticked menacingly on stage and I couldn’t shake the feeling I was rapidly becoming the subject of a horror movie. The human cross goat people projected onto the screen behind the stage didn’t exactly help. From the outset, it was obvious this show would be as much about the performance and visuals as it would about the music.

At first I was slightly disappointed to hear a mere voiceover, when Safia frontman Ben Woolner kicked off the concert with Counting Sheep. That is, until I realised it wasn’t one. In reality, in a night where haunting electronic voices mingled with Ben’s own outrageous vocals, Safia proved they are far and away one of the best upcoming bands in Australia.

With lines such as “don’t fall asleep”, it was comforting that they played Counting Sheep early in the night to give some people a fighting a chance to sleep that night. While Counting Sheep demonstrates the band’s brilliant artistry, it does nothing to show Ben’s voice off. This voice would become the highlight of the night and what makes Safia so recognisable.

Their remix of Aston Shuffle’s Tear It Down came next. The trio were blasted with audience’s screams of “I’m going to tear it down”, as well as a bra that appeared from nowhere.

With the crowd suitably pumped, they trialled one of their new songs. It’s a luxury for those watching that unlike more established bands, new songs don’t come at the expense of old favourites. As Ben crooned about his “home heart”, my Canberra pride reached a new level. A town known for little other than politicians and the cold, Safia have always been a point of pride for Canberrans. The song was almost operatic, with Ben reaching ridiculous heights with his voice with apparent ease.

You Are The One revealed the couples in the audience, as well as those who weren’t quite comfortable enough yet to be seen as couples. Take Me Over sent the room into a club atmosphere and I couldn’t help but fantasise about a night out with Safia as DJs. People attempted to sing along, but in reality it sounded more like a chorus of drunken ambulances. Probably best to leave it to the band next time, guys.

They walked off stage briefly after a pretty poor attempt at convincing us it was the end of the show. Nobody moved a muscle. A light show summoned their return, where they nailed their new single Embracing Me. Knowing the night was coming to a end, the crowd energised for the last song Paranoia, Ghosts and Other Sounds. The last words of the song rang true “can you hear me now?” With an audience literally screaming in approval for over a minute, and the boys awkwardly standing there lapping it up, the world can definitely hear Safia. And we like what we hear.