Thursday, February 10, 2011



Mistletone again prove they're the promoters to beat as every band brings their own twisted logic to the theatre of electro-pop and emerging victorious on a night that ranks as a highlight in a brightly studded summer of gigs.

Kicking things off are the duo of Lost Animal, featuring a welcomely ubiquitous Shags Chamberlain who helps out on bass. A man who plays in both of the support bands and is an ex-member of the headline band, Chamberlain gets deserved props later in the night from Mr Pink, but here he plays backup to the gritty, misanthropic electro dub dirges of Jarrod Quarrell. It's great to see a wry intelligence and dark sense of humour having its way with these evocative and underused sounds.

One of the city’s most musically talented groups, Pikelet deliver a sterling set of new songs and highlights from the recently AMP-nominated Stem. Always interested in pushing the boundaries of melody and structure, their new songs continue an exploration with new wave disco, polyrhythms and layered sounds. The opening Smithereens, new song The Year Is… are highlights, as are Locust and Weakest Link. 'Shags and I were lucky enough to play in his band last time Ariel Pink was here which makes us the biggest fans in the world' says singer Evelyn Morris in what is news to most of the audience. Their last two songs inspire dancing amongst those closest to her, and it’s a glowing set from one of our city’s greatest musical assets. If new ideas run the risk of being buried under the weight of the previous ones still repeating, then this only means you have to listen closer.

A by now packed Hi Fi Bar are nearing ecstasy as Ariel Pink and his cohorts, who have been mingling with the audience all night, finally assemble themselves amidst their instruments and begin their set. Miming to a TV ad for the compilation CD '60s Gold', Pink, the only member not dressed in a sparkly or riotously colourful outfit, leads the band into a blistering take on Artifact then Bright Lit Blue Skies which ring with a punch their CD versions only hint at. As with few other gigs I’ve ever witnessed, the ringleader has the power to effect good luck; the uncorking of a champagne bottle perfectly introduces L’estat, Pink calls us a ‘bunch of bogans’ before staring down a screaming girl in the front row with ‘I appreciate it, but you are politely declined’ as Flying Circles bursts forth in perfect syncopation. It seems impossible this wasn’t planned in advance but it adds to the uniquely thrilling whole that the very tightly rehearsed band create. 

Though the first half of the 90 minute set is gold, the density of sound, clashing vocals styles, frequent bursts of feedback and need to have everything drenched in reverb wears. Round and Round (introduced with ‘let’s get this over with’), Fright Night and Beverly Kills all work because of their cleaner sound, which also allows Pink’s uncanny pop nous to shine brighter. Don’t Think Twice (Love) is another highlight and the closing blast of Jules Lost His Jewels brings things back up to a height few other bands can manage. Though he paces the stage, swigging champagne or aimlessly wandering as if looking for something, suggests he’s uneasy, he seems born to do what he’s doing. Bands this blindingly charismatic and obviously smart don’t come along every day, or put on gigs this gloriously messy.

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