Northcote Social Club
With a torrential downpour outside, scant few make it to an early, deft set from the almighty Spencer P Jones and his Escape Committee. The wry swagger, wiry guitar work and wily attitude that sets him apart from other garage rockers Melbourne is renown for breeding is on show in force tonight. Jones, one of the key evolutionaries seems to exist as a fuse back to the 60s garage rock explosion; at times it seems the sound was born from his melodious hacking. The band, bathed in luminous geometric projections, also boast the brilliance of Dave Nicholls’ drumming and bassist Helen Cattanach's vocals. A cameo from Evan Dando on The Rain Came is wonderful, but the languid She Walks Between the Raindrops and brief rush of Make em Cry are the highlights.
Pataphysics, a supremely talented three-piece specializing in jazzy hip-hop are, it’s blindingly obvious, on the up. Days away from winning a truckload of new fans with a set at Laneway, tonight’s set sees them plugging a smooth Ben Harper-esque soul; playful with the melodies, heavy on the rhythm. If you ever wanted to seduce Lisa Bonet or one of Bob Marley’s grandsons, this is your soundtrack. Always pushing a positive message via some rock solid arrangements, Pataphysics are an excellent choice for this varied lineup.
Despite there being only fifty-odd people in the audience by the time Bohjass Upas Militia (BUM) take to the stage, excitement courses through the venue. This seventeen-piece explorchestra of jazz-funk-psych minimalism match the low-fi cosmic projections beautifully. Opening with some brassy, noir-ish toning and spectral percussion, the band show an astonishing level of restraint and silence, leaving the tension of what ‘could’ suddenly explode from the crowded stage lingering through their quieter movements. The band leap from killer blaxploitation funk and delicate minimalism to Sun Ra freakouts in the tight constraints of a song-length piece, with a mere raising of bandleader Timothy Pledger hand. At times BUM’s rhythm section sound like a programmed backing as it’s so unusual to see and hear such intricate combination of sounds. Swimming Pool is a blast of exuberant space funk and highlights the fluidity of the guitars and insistence of the brass; the music never feels as crowded as the stage looks. Launching their album Beneath the Lightless Sky tonight, this is a fascinating, unique band and a blast of a show.