Sunday, January 3, 2010


Monday, July 28, 2008 
The Evelyn

The first thing you notice are the projections. The dimly lit room sees two walls playing host to short animated reels, and later, advertisements from the 1960s that perfectly set the mood for Pikelet's vaguely nostalgic and sometimes funny tunes. Twinkling fairy-lights adorn the stage and line the instruments soon to be resurrected from their stands, while the audience fall into the habitual Melbourne pattern of shying away from the stage and cramming the back two thirds of the room. For once though, this arrangement is necessary. Aleks and his Ramps soon march out in front of the stage in synchronisation and begin to enact a dance routine that seems to be heavily influenced by the actions of a new born kitten. Kicking off with Whiplash which builds over the killer electro-pop intro that backs their kitten-dancing, it soon dawns on those present that whatever hijinks the band got up to while touring Canada they've returned stronger than ever. They're tight, they dance, they have incredibly exciting songs that are a little bit pop with a lot of sudden dynamic turns, odd but really effective structures, killer harmonies (sometimes stretching up to five parts) and their lyrics are now audible. Extreme Wheeze reins in his excitable limbs and is more about the music than powering nations with his extraneous kinetic energy and they've even got songs based on a hypothetical film about Bruce Willis going back in time to stop 9/11. Good God people....what else do you want? Far from plying populist fare, the Ramps are never anything less than a charming creation of rambunctious curiousness, which I seriously doubt influenced their earlier dance, but does render it clever as well as disarmingly endearing. I Wish I Was An Aurora Borealis and Sorry Mum But I'm Andrew Bolt may not be bursting on to JJJ playlists anytime soon, but in a just world they would be all over it.

Soon enough the fairy lights are reignited and pot plants positioned as the band assemble. "Hi. We're Pikelet," says Evelyn Morris, the woman I was about to call Pikelet. "Tarquin, Matt, Shags and I'm Evelyn," she later introduces. Epithets aside, if the excellent EP for sale at the busy merch desk is anything to go by, it does seem that Morris is embracing the addition of electronics, drums, bass and clarinet, and as tonight proves, the audience are embracing the idea too. Straight away it becomes apparent that is Morris's voice is far stronger than those familiar with her better-known songs might expect, and she seems to like singing more forcefully. It could be expected that those better-known songs (Bug in Mouth, Little Man, Beyond The Sky), gentle paeans to solitary characters that suit her homespun delivery, would be the highlights of the set, but it's clear with the energy she invests into her new songs, that days of quiet meanderings are not what is inspiring her now, and while as beautiful as ever, they're dwarfed. With a refreshingly minimal use of the delay pedal and battling through technical difficulties, it's the new songs, three of which conclude the set, that glow the most warmly. Whether these were the same ones nervously debuted at Golden Plains several months ago I'm not sure, but the vaguely disco Brain Allergy and another fantastical character story Toby White show that the creation station that is Evelyn Morris seems to have found another level, working with the other instruments to create rich and intricate backings for her still-Morrisian subjects. A top night that ends with Morris's adieu of 'keep being rad', a perfect description of the band's progress.

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