THE CORNER HOTEL
The cold night doesn’t stop the fans from crowding into a sweaty Corner Hotel tonight to witness The Go! Team tear through a show unlikely to be rivalled by any other in recent memory for sheer enthusiasm and blinding positivity. Though their legacy as low-fi party band supreme precedes them, it also sets the bar damn high. This reputation works in their favour as the audience, already warmed by a set from Northeast Party House, a band you’re likely to hear a lot more about before the year’s end, rejoice the moment they set foot on stage.
Before this though, NEPH play to a small, sparse audience who grow both in number and enthusiasm throughout the set. Though sounding like a mid-paced Bloc Party or shy Maximo Park, they can map out a song with class; dynamics and instrumentation is spot on. Despite a relatively weak vocalist (who nevertheless dons a Jigglypuff Pokemon head as a jumper for much of the set), they turn out to be an inspired choice of support.
Hitting like a veritable T.O.R.N.A.D.O when they arrive, The Go! Team battle sound problems and a stage that seems slightly smaller than what they’re used to, which, when combined with such unified energy, only makes the show more of a ball of condensed energy.
When they pull out a typewriter for Secretary Song, a steel drum for Back Like 8 Track and an elaborate melodica for Ready to Go Steady you realise that this is the first of their gigs in Melbourne in which any of those instruments could actually be heard over guitars' raucous thrill. As with Rolling Blackouts, there is no drop in energy but more drops in volume and less reliance on backing tracks, as those modern classics from Thunder, Lightning, Strike!.
Without the aerobics workout that singer Ninja incorporates into most songs, this would be merely an interesting and fun live band, but it is her limitless energy that transform Go! Team into one of the best live bands in the world. It’s hard to think of anyone half as good when they’re mid-The Power is On or pulling out the banjo licks and driving Yosemite Theme to higher and higher planes of ecstatic glee.
That this is likely their last Australian tour adds poignancy to the closing Keys to the City and Apollo Throwdown. Whatever form the members’ future efforts take they’d be hard-pressed to be this brilliantly ramshackle.