Kllo bask in some hometown glory

There was an air of triumphalism during Kllo’s performance. For Melbourne-bred cousins Chloe Kaul and Simon Lam, this was their victory lap after a year of relentlessly touring their ornately constructed debut album Backwater. And boy did they enjoy themselves.
Theirs isn’t the kind of sound that naturally lends itself to live performance. With too many subtleties in production that can be lost in the maelstrom of a mixing desk, Backwater is one of 2017’s most nuanced headphone albums, where the slightest change in key can raise the hairs on your arm. But like their progenitors Air, Portishead and The xx it takes a re-contextualising of their music for it to make sense on stage.
With a minimalist set up consisting of back to back synths and a lone microphone, Kaul and Lam began by drowning out the sound of boozy patrons with ‘Downfall’ and its mesmeric, syncopated rhythm.
Kaul is a hypnotic presence onstage, her limbs move fluidly as she attempts to articulate her heart to the microphone. You can tell the songs mean a lot to her. This is pop music, but it is deeply personal pop music and her voice is emboldened with a sincerity that elevates her lovelorn electronic ballads to something akin to Ben Gibbard in The Postal Service.
Of course, touring their critically acclaimed breakthrough album meant that the setlist was heavily weighted against their older material. But the crowd was nonplussed as the duo masterfully wove Backwater together in front of our eyes, taking as little time as possible between songs to create an illusion that they were part of one long suite and lulling us into a daze.
And that is Kllo’s secret weapon, with Lam’s warm synths and Kaul’s haunting vocals, they encapsulate that dream-pop/downbeat electronic sound that is custom made for 4am. While softer tracks like ‘Making Distractions’ are handled delicately, with Kaul barely enunciating above a whisper as the synths wash over blissfully, they wisely counter this with beefed-up versions of ‘Last Yearn’, ‘Dissolve’ and ‘By Your Side’ that stray into full-blown house music.
These juxtapositions only serve to make their material stronger as they stretch the breadth of their sound past the reductive chillout music hashtag. And there’s no complaints from the crowd when this happens either, Kllo might not be known for their drops yet, but when they occur, the dancefloor obliges with gusto.
With not a hint of objectivity in sight, ‘Nylon’ is the jaw-dropping stunner of the evening. The double tracking of her yearning voice with the minor-key piano melody is a devastating combination and one that builds to an emotionally cathartic release that belies their age.
The night finishes with the cousins earnestly and humbly thanking the crowd for their support and talking about their year as if we are all a part of their family. It’s impossible not to feel supremely happy for them, and with Lam’s ear and Kaul’s voice it’s clear this is just the beginning.
Highlight: Their cute/goofy faces when they said they couldn’t believe they sold out their home.
Lowlight: My murderous fantasies as two punters talked loudly through every quiet moment.
Crowd Favourite: ‘Nylon’ – surely a contender for Australian Song of 2kSeventeen.