Date / Venue: Sunday April 2rd, 2017 - The Triffid, Brisbane
Sunday nights aren't often nights for rock and roll. They're nights for enjoying a soothing beverage, and curling up on the couch, catching up on whatever Netflix show I happen to be binge watching that week. Braced and ready to get back to my mundane 9-5 the next morning. Tonight, however is different. Tonight I find myself amongst hordes of shaggy bearded hipsters, coated in flannel and adorning fedoras and other equally trendy head wear. Thank God The Triffid serves craft beer, or they'd have a riot on their hands. So why am I here, you ask? The answer simple... Wolfmother are in town on their Gypsy Caravan tour and are about to rip a hole in Brisbane so there's no way I'm going to miss that.
With the show starting late, it wasn't until 8:15 when The Immigrant Union meandered onto the stage. Bit by bit, slowly generating noise while they sipped from their beers as they made their gradual entrance. Pulling every trick from the “Indie Band For Beginners” handbook, the group trudged through slow and droning numbers. Soaking their guitars in fuzzy reverbs and delays, rolling repetitive basslines through entire tracks and rarely shifting dynamics throughout the songs, except to create the illusion of a build up before suddenly ending, often without all members realising the song had ended. Shoe gazing and generally staying low energy through their set, they struggled to bring the growing audience into their performance. There were patches of beauty in the songs, sharp harmonies and moving melodies lingered over the music, it was just every musical section struggled to grow and often lasted much longer than it needed to. Ultimately, it was an uneventful beginning to the evening, as the growing crowd were dragged along for the ride. Not even their big building finish, which was definitely the highlight of their set, as a rare and genuine musical moment grew into a bulging cacophony of noise was enough to win over The Triffid this night.
Things were about to pick up though. Looking like they'd just come from a 70's dress up party, at which the drummer won first place in glorious fashion, Davey Lane brought some serious slick tunes, bathing in retro swagger. Ever the showman, Davey made the stage his own, as his band mates locked down a tight bed for his big riffs and righteous solos. For the next half an hour, the Triffid was treated to a showcase of catchy tunes, great playing and some real energy on stage. Brilliantly blending fast, upbeat rock songs with smooth ballads and catchy pop tunes, Davey Lane pulled in the audience and warmed them up nicely for the big show ahead.
After a short intermission, and a sneaky dash to the servo for a cheeky pie, I was ready. Hydrated, full of sustenance, and amped. The lights dropped and a packed house roared, welcoming Wolfmother to the stage. Stockdale and co weren't messing around, bursting into life at full speed. Feeding off the crowd’s energy, and throwing it back in amplified abundance, it was clear that the band's mission statement was to bring the audience into the show as much as possible. Extending breaks down engage the audience in sing along and clapping sections, and even clapping along themselves when they had the means, the bouncing masses were as much a part of the performance as the musicians themselves.
Wolfmother’s performance is the sum of many parts and influences. From Aussie pub rock, to seventies British Prog rock, through Psychedelic blues, this a band that understands it's composition completely and uses the strengths of all these pieces to put on an infectiously engaging live show. Every song brings another ingredient to the set, and the Wolfmother bag of tricks contains many tasty morsels. Each member of the band is an excellent musician and performer in their own right. Without backing tracks, without extra musicians, the 3 piece bring so much density and texture to their show. Wolfmother brilliantly stretch and pull their tracks in every direction they can, taking the audience deep into psychedelic breakdowns, then crushing them with big riffs and grooves. Big solos and extended instrumental breaks add extra layers to the recorded performances on their records, giving the live performance a refreshing dynamic. What's important with these live variations, and is a trap so commonly seen through live jams, is that Wolfmother never let these extensions overstay their welcome. While never rushing through them, Wolfmother never disconnect from their audience, as is a common pitfall much larger arena clichés fall into.
Having said all of this, there's one underlying take away from the show. This is a roaring rock and roll show. It's big and bold, it's heavy and powerful, it's uncompromising and it's utterly brilliant. It's an all-encompassing experience between band and audience. It's exactly what my Sunday night needed. By the end of the show, a seething Triffid audience had bounced, sang, and clapped along with full gusto to an uncompromising rock and roll beast named Wolfmother, and it's time to for me to wrap up my weekend, and get ready for the inevitable grind that awaits tomorrow.
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