REVIEW: Richard In Your Mind, The Laurels, Fishing @ Yours and Owls

Wandering onstage and setting up amongst a mess of electronics, keyboards and laptops, two-piece electronica act Fishing got the night off to an interesting start. Moving from lush, rich ambient synthpop-style tracks to bleepy driving electronica, the duo drew from a wide sonic pallette. Fishing have often (and unfairly) been slapped with the oft-ridiculed ‘chillwave’ genre tag, yet in a live setting, it is clear that there is more to these boys than just hazy, nostalgia-driven ambience. Using a variety of sequencers, keyboards and ___ to trigger their sounds, their blissful, bubbling electronic sounds came across well in the tiny space. Finishing up with song based on a heavily chopped sample of ‘Single Ladies’ by Beyonce, it was a short yet exciting set from the band, setting the tone for a night of musical experimentation.

After a long set change, four-piece grunge act The Laurels took the floor. After winning rave reviews around their home city of Sydney, expectations were high as the band launched into a breakneck set of powerful, heavy grunge rock. After a massive delay early on, as their second guitarist battled technical problems, the band showcased why they’ve been so heavily hyped in the harbour city. Ranging from arid, desert-tinged stoner rock a la early Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin, to driving, groovy, distorted psychedelic rock, it was a set almost primal in its heaviness and power, drawing comparisons to My Bloody Valentine or Primal Scream; monstrous guitar riffs ranging from screaming to droning, relentless drumming and prominent, thrumming bass combined for a huge, confronting sound. The Laurels showed off the energy, passion and grunge-punk base of – say – The Vines, but with the musical dexterity to also traverse and travel between the many facets of early heavy rock, element culminating in a powerful, swirling, almost hypnotic end result. Musically chaotic and explosive, The Laurels are surely one of the most impressive bands in Sydney right now.

It was again a mammoth soundcheck and set change before Richard In Your Mind assembled on stage; or, perhaps, ‘conglomerated’ is a better term, as four, then five, then six members finally took up instruments. With keyboards, drums, bass, samples/electronic drums, and two guitarists – including the eponymous and ubiquitous Richard – the band’s sound comprised spacey synth and electronics over jangly indie-rock. Members swapped instruments regularly, with double percussion at times, courtesy of the member in charge of samples occasionally taking up drumsticks to play along on a rack of toms above his board. With psychedelic influences shining through an upbeat, poppy filter, Richard In Your Mind’s sound was an interesting arrangement; nostalgic, simple pop tunes with forward-looking and modern electronic elements. Despite frontman Richard’s best attempts at engaging with a thinning crowd – many of whom moved on during the band’s hour-long headline set – this particular group of punters were more content to sit on the floor and watch, rather than stand up and dance.

While initially seeming an odd triple-bill, the lineup of Fishing, The Laurels and Richard In Your Mind turned out to be a masterstroke; despite having little in common on the surface, the vibes and mood created by these three bands, through their common use of sonic experimentation and unconventional techniques, saw the evening at Yours and Owls become one of the most interesting and impressive gigs this reviewer has witnessed in the whole of 2011.

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