After a decade as The Beautiful Girls (with one or two forays into solo/side project territory), Mat McHugh has dived head-first into a career under his own name. Soulshine was at his recent show at the Sunshine Coast’s Solbar.
The summer coastal tour has long been a staple on McHugh’s calendar, but never before has it captured the essence of hitting the road in search of sun, surf, sand and good music quite like this.
From the outset on the latest tour as Mat McHugh and the Seperatista Soundsystem it becomes apparent that McHugh isn’t so much reinventing as he is redefining. Touring as a three piece, it’s a stripped back affair more like The Beautiful Girls’ early years. McHugh on guitar, Paul Derricot on drums and longtime producer/collaborator Ian Pritchett on bass; the trio craft a sound that sits somewhere in between McHugh’s solo acoustic ventures, and the complex layers of his output with TBG. The setlist runs the gamut of the past decade taking in its share of older crowd favourites along the way. It’s raw and loose affair; guitar solos feel longer and fresher as the music navigates songs that had been polished gems on previous tours.
The Solbar is a venue that could best be described as a shoebox. A shoebox with reasonably cheap drinks for a live venue. Cramming 200-odd in on a hot summer’s night and letting the spirits flow has the unique effect of balancing out the venue’s intimacy with the vibe of a festival.