REVIEW: Happy New Year, Nite Fields, MBC, Basil’s Kite @ Yours & Owls

Local mathrockers Basil’s Kite kicked the night off with their bubbling brand of tech-rock. Their recent lack of activity in the area saw a tenseness in the band, which showed in hasty last minute checks through a new song. However, they were quick to show the crowd their typical form; a real musical tightness among the band members which somehow has a loose, free-form quality. Whether it’s through their lyrical wit, impressive compositions or attempts at Irish accents, Basil’s Kite are the kind of band guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. Glittering saxophone melodies meshed with frenetic guitar work, not an easy feat when playing in some of the crazy time signatures and rhythmic patterns exhibited. Never taking themselves too seriously, eventhe occasional loss of cohesion among the band couldn’t bring them down, the band taking rare slips in timing and complete halts in their stride. With more consistent performances, the band can regain tightness that they have previously demonstrated, most noteworthy their stellar performance supporting sleepmakeswaves in September last year. Basil’s Kite put on an enjoyable performance, starting the night with good vibes and infectious energy.

Moonbase Commander brought the crowd back in from the street to what was probably the most disappointing set of the night. Before the torches and pitchforks come out, allow me to stress that this reviewer’s disappointment had nothing to do with the actual performance, rather the sound issues that had plagued the entire night. Lingering noise issues with the PA and speakers crippled the sound to the point that it was eventually swapped out for a bass amp. While the switch did break the fluidity of the set, it ended up a worthwhile change, even if the amp didn’t sound as good for the vast styles of music played. The track choice by Nick Luke was top notch, ranging from laid back hip-hop beats, bass heavy electronica, and the post-dubstep style which has earned Moonbase Commander’s recordings extensive praise and recognition. Chopping, mixing and inflections of effects kept the flow of the set interesting and fresh. If it weren’t for the technical issues, I can’t think of anything possible about this set to complain about.

Brisbane’s Nite Fields toned down the energy of the night with their brand of droning, shoegaze-y rock. Despite sharp and constant stylistic changes exhibited during the prior sets, the move towards less energetic music felt surprisingly natural, taking the night into a more serious and sombre mode. As a band, Nite Fields were remarkably tight, every soaring, reverb-drenched note from the guitars and brooding synthesiser falling into place. Though some of their compositions could have been a minute or two shorter, the musical atmospheres that each piece eventuated were satisfying to hear. The only criticism of their performance was the volume, which at one stage was addressed by a band member, but not specifically fixed. When an act is focused on building atmospheres through their instrumentation, being able to hear each instrument clearly throughout the act is a necessity; many of the harsher, higher frequency sounds became grating, instruments became lost in the mix, and rich textures became blurs of noise. This marred an otherwise enjoyable, interesting and solid performance.

The night came to a head with headliner Happy New Year. Unfortunately, by the time the New York act had begun, many of the patrons had left, likely due to the late starting time. Admittedly, in researching HNY prior to the show, none of Happy New Year’s studio recordings ticked any boxes for this writer. However, the live show of Eleanor Logan changed that opinion, in the best way possible. Logan’s guitar wailed over her delicate, solemn crooning, with effects often making it sound like there was more than one guitar being played. These melded eloquently with the heavy bass sounds and minimal drumming, creating lush, droning soundscapes held together with shimmering electronics and drum machines. It’s the kind of music to which you can close your eyes, get completely lost in, only to emerge in surprise to applause as the song ended without you even noticing. It seemed a perfect accompaniment to the ambience of Yours and Owls at such a late time of night; chilled out, gorgeous, and ever so alternative. The perfect way to end such a diverse night of talent.

By Dean Benes

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