Contrast (replacing Possible Humans), the first of tonight’s Anglophilic guitar-heavy line-up, set the precedent for turning the charisma to zero and the effects to ten. Bashing out a batch of five-minute-plus slices of careening shoegaze, the four-piece win the small amassing crowd over in no time. Singer/songwriter James Thomson finds a seemingly limitless number of ways to invest languid guitar sounds with the piercing fury of Jesus and Mary Chain. Recent single Dull is the highlight of a revelatory set.
Playing longer and darker songs than those on last year’s Swallowing a Sunflower album, Parading somehow manage to combine the sensation of floating on a cloud with the reality of actually falling through the freezing atmosphere while being stabbed by millions of tiny water droplets. Boasting the brilliant, piercing guitar of Keith Mason, the sheer force of the band’s music takes on an extra depth as dry ice billows and the blue lights render them sickly ghosts.
Several months away from (finally) releasing their debut album, Lowtide begin their set with their best known and oldest song No Horizon. Once the highlight of their set, its early dispatching indicates a newfound confidence, one replicated in the bright, crystalline mix and the band’s banter. Wedding Ring and upcoming single Blue Movie are highlights of a set driven by the dual basses of Lucy Buckeridge and Giles Simon.
Despite the unremitting quality of tonight’s acts, Sydney’s Day Ravies manage to earn their headliner role with a set that ably showcases their balance of texture and pop song-writing. Despite forming in 2011, last year’s debut album Tussle announced their national arrival, set critics fawning and ensured hype built quickly. It’s hard to imagine Lani Crooks’ chimerical keyboard lines, Caroline de Dear’s muscular bass and the hacked chords and melodies of Sam Wilkenson’s guitar can translate live as well as they do on record. Happily, they massively exceed expectations. Following the meticulous guitar work of Lowtide’s Gabe Lewis is a big ask for any performer, but Wilkenson’s mix of crunching chords and fluid melodies work around the other players brilliantly. I Don’t Mind and Tussle highlight Staring is Caring stand out, but it’s the rollercoaster ride of Fake Beach with its fuzz bass and synth stabs that shows how much this band have going for them, and how bright their future is.