Lucky Dragons - Wednesday October 12, Toff In Town
"Grace through adversity." That's what I wrote in my notebook at the end of Geoffrey O'Connor's set opening for The Lucky Dragons' show at the Toff In Town. O'Connor, showcasing tunes off his debut solo LP Vanity Is Forever, had only been back in the country for five hours from visiting America. Qantas had quite efficiently misplaced all his instruments, so O'Connor had to depend on the kindness of friends, who had donated instruments so he could play.
The vocalist for local "naïve-pop" outfit The Crayon Fields delivered his goods with aplomb; his genuflecting songs about fumbling love, nurturing sentiments, regret and nervous anticipation rang smart and true in the small venue, and seemed to come more alive as O'Connor stood alone on that stage with unfamiliar instruments that occasionally hiccupped or misfired. Songs such as Whatever Leads Me To You, So Sorry and the dreamy Bad Ideas shone with a tenderness and emotional resonance I found irresistible.
After a short break, Los Angeles-based experimental duo Lucky Dragons came to the stage. Known for their anything-goes and audience participatory soundscapes, this evening's show revolved (literally) around a heavy piece of plexiglass, striped with metallic tape, set on a table. On top of it was a thinner piece of plastic, also with tape on it -the opposing stripes created an intense, metallic droning sound that changed pitch when the stripes were aligned at various angles. Luke Fischbeck and Sarah Rara pulled members of the audience onstage and, after instructing them on the art of rotating the plastic, the show began in earnest.
With that drone (think of the sound an amplifier makes when it's at full volume and a live mic is placed next to it) forming a constant backdrop, Fischbeck and Rara set about on their laptops, eliciting waves of chittering sound effects, minimal drumbeats and occasional primitive chants, barked through microphones. Volunteers came and went to rotate the plastic, and the drone never ceased during the hour-long set.
For the first five minutes of this, I was flabbergasted. Then, for the next 20 minutes, I was enchanted - hypnotised, even. At about the 30-minute mark, however, I began to grow weary of the incessant, non-stop digital assault. It began to remind me of what an 8-bit video game chip orgy would sound like, and I'm afraid that it all became a bit … much.
Fearless and original? Sure. Innovative? You bet. I would have liked to have heard more variegated sounds, and, perhaps, a change or two in the pace and construct of the soundscape. Lucky Dragons are an innovative and truly daring band - but sometimes the element of experimentation comes at a price: good, old-fashioned enjoyability.
BY THOMAS BAILEY
LOVED: O'Connor's winning sense of humour as he explained to the audience his predicament.
HATED: Hearing about Brigitte, and why she's such a bitch - courtesy of the four loudly chattering women who were seated directly behind me.
DRANK: A bottle of Tomich Hills Riesling with my plus one.