On The Road With Hatchie And Green Buzzard
Biblical storms, lost pedals, and unforgettable shows – here’s what went down as Hatchie and Green Buzzard played the inaugural Somersby Secret Garden tour. Photos By Joe agius.
Day 1: Sandstone Point Hotel
It’s 11am on a Friday in Brisbane and the Somersby Secret Garden tour kicks off with a reunion.
As road cases and bags are being loaded like Tetris blocks into the Secret Garden tour bus, Green Buzzard (aka Sydney singer Paddy Harrowsmith) and his former bandmates in Hatchie are embracing each other like long lost family members. And in a sense they are.
“We’ve known Paddy for a really long time,” says Harriette Pilbeam, the Brisbane songwriter behind Hatchie. “He used to play in Hatchie, so it’s been really cool to see each other again on the road. It’s like old times.”
Laidback, familiar and fun. This is how Harriette describes the whirlwind of the Somersby Secret Garden tour, a series of free summer gigs across the Queensland coast. The tour is supposed to capture the warmth and carefree vibes of an Aussie summer, but as the bus heads down the Pacific Coast Highway towards the tiny island of Bribie, a few dark clouds begin circling.
After a sweltering few weeks the weather forecast had predicted weekend storms – not that anyone on the bus seems concerned. Spirits are high as we pull into the Sandstone Point Hotel with its beautiful rolling lawns, an open-air stage on the water, and picturesque views out to Moreton Bay and beyond.
It was Hatchie’s first time at the venue, but it almost never happened. “We were worried it was going to be rained out,” she reflects from the relative safety of Brisbane’s The Boundary Hotel a few days later. “It was a lot of rain.”
As the freak downpour – said to be Brisbane’s worst for 100 years – lashes the stage, Harriette and her band soldier on. They power through cuts from 2019 debut Keepsake, before the rain cuts the set short.
“It was still fun,” she shrugs. “I’ve never been out there before. Sandstone Point is usually a venue that’s reserved for much bigger shows, and we got to play down on the green by the water.”
Spending a large chuck of early-2019 on the road in the US with indie duo Girlpool, the Hatchie band is pretty adept at taking things in their stride. On that tour, Harriette and bandmates Joe Agius (guitar/keys) and Richie Daniell (drums) would sometimes drive for 15-hour long stretches between cities. But it’s all part of being a touring musician – and Harriette says she’s relishing every experience, no matter how trying it seems at the time.
“The best thing about touring is the travel and seeing different parts of the world. I didn’t get a chance to travel around Australia much before I was touring, so it’s been really cool to see states and cities I’d never been to – especially far off places like Fremantle and Adelaide.”
Day 2: White Rhino, Surfers Paradise
The next morning and some flash flooding has added some extra complication to our commute between Brisbane and Surfers Paradise. Luckily, we have Hatchie guitarist Joe on board, who helps us navigate our way out of heavy traffic and around the flooded streets.
We arrive safe and sound at Surfers venue White Rhino, which had some flooding to contend with itself. There were pools on the floor and furniture pushed into a corner to avoid damage, but by the time soundcheck rolls around, the weather gods finally smile on us and we even get to see some blue skies.
As the venue begins to fill we’re exposed to Surfers Paradise in all its glory. Tonight’s crowd is definitely a mixed bag: music fans in band tees and rolled-up jeans, bronzed-up and beach ready Gold Coast locals, and some frocked-up party-goers for a hen’s night upstairs.
Green Buzzard kicks off with a set of jangly pop gems from his 2019 album Amidst The Clutter & Mess. Paddy is buoyed by the arrival of his guitar pedals from the airport – they were lost in transit between Brisbane and Sydney – and by the time Hatchie takes the stage, there’s an undeniable energy in the room.
“It was a real party vibe,” Harriette remarks afterwards. ”Everyone was getting excited for the show, and getting excited to be out.”
She’s not wrong. The show at White Rhino could well have been the gig of the tour, and as the band helps our intrepid sound man Jeremy bump out, Joe keeps the party going with a DJ set full of summertime bangers. The night ends with an obligatory stroll down Surfers’ iconic Cavill Mall.
“I hadn’t been there since schoolies,” Hatchie jokes. “It was a bit of a throwback, but so cool.”
Day 3: The Boundary Hotel, Brisbane
After a morning beach walk and some much-needed coffee, we’re on the road again to the final stop of the Secret Garden tour: Brisbane institution The Boundary Hotel.
As with every leg on this tour, the Boundary has been transformed into the Secret Garden for one night only, with beautiful greenery, mazes and other imagery bringing each show to life. It’s been a thrill on this tour watching the venues take on a new energy each night, as a secret garden space with hidden nooks and corners for punters to explore.
“It’s really cool that Somersby has an interest in this music world, supporting up and coming artists and helping them get out on the road. It’s been really nice working with them.”
The show at The Boundary marks a nice full circle moment for Hatchie, who came up playing shows in Brisbane’s vibrant live scene. As the crowd builds at the venue, it’s clear there are some familiar faces in the crowd.
“Because we’re from Brisbane there’s a lot of old friends and family here, which is always nice,” she says backstage.
By the time Hatchie hits the stage at 7.30pm, the venue is packed out. The band is clearly in red hot form, having toured pretty relentlessly in the last 12 months, and the chemistry between them is undeniable.
After some emotional goodbyes and a few ciders, the inaugural Somersby Secret Garden tour winds to a close. Next stop is Laneway Festival, where Hatchie is performing for the first time since 2018. She’s also performing a special DJ set in the Somersby Secret Garden.
“It’s a nice way to start the year,” Hatchie explains. “It was really great to see so many people come out, especially up the coast where I’m not from. We have a few fans scattered around the coast that wouldn’t ordinarily get a chance to see us, so it was nice to play to different people in different venues.”
Look out for Somersby’s Secret Garden, featuring Hatchie and friends, at St Jerome’s Laneway Festival in Melbourne and Sydney.