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Pond took their captivating new album 'Tasmania' to another level with a blistering set at The Croxton

It was an eccentric experience to say the least.

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Joshua Martin

Pond have always been a bit ridiculous, but the band’s recorded output has sometimes felt a bit 2D. In the nascent phase of the Perth outfit’s ten-year history, their albums felt like tame disappointments compared to their highly extroverted, musically assured and Richter-rousing live shows. But their last couple of records – 2017’s The Weather and newie Tasmania – are standalone entities revealing the band’s growing distinction.

They’ve left behind the grandiose psych-rock riffs of yore and taken a deep dive into synthesisers and sequencers. Pond’s performative nature has always been evident, but where it formerly manifested in silly song titles and classic rock shredding, it now breeds a more innovative musical slant and emphasises frontman Nick Allbrook’s outsider personality.

You could argue Allbrook and co. have grown comfortably weirder, but the setlist inclusion of ‘Daisy’, ‘Sixteen Days’ and ‘Sweep Me Off My Feet’ also displayed their knack for throwing together a handy pop song.

 
 
 
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Songs from Tasmania dominated the setlist. The title track contemplates a move to the titular southern isle in the wake of a climate disaster that makes mainland Australia uninhabitable. A sense of apocalyptic doom poked through on ‘Burnt Out Star’ and ‘Hand Mouth Dancer’, two setlist highlights.

‘Burnt Out Star’ is a multi-part existential inquisition unconstrained by pop structure. Pond have copious experience deviating from convention, but rarely have the band’s lateral impulses resulted in eight minutes of vitally compelling subversive noise.

The Weather also received strong representation and songs like ‘Fire In the Water’ freed Allbrook to flap around the stage like a tween Mick Jagger impersonator who’d just downed his first can of Red Bull. His movement and posturing has always sent palpable vibrations through venues. Is it sexy? Reptilian? Mystifying? The consensus impression isn’t clear, but he’s a major asset as a frontman.

 
 
 
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The Croxton sounded red hot. Jay Watson, Joe Ryan and Jamie Terry evinced their versatility on a range of synths, guitars, basses and effects units, while also offering solid backing vocals. Drummer James Ireland played a crucial role – amid all the genre-hopping and aberrant song structures, he ensured the dance floor wasn’t frigid.

The new record is a corker, but not as impactful as tonight’s live show.

Highlight: ‘Don't Look At The Sun Or You'll Go Blind’ with ‘Firestarter’ lyrics.

Lowlight: Paradise burns in Australia.

Crowd Favourite: ‘Paint Me Silver', call me Herman Hesse.