Tom Vek, Kindness, Jonathon Boulet @ The Hi-FI
If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” said Isaac Newton when referring to claims he was the most influential scientist of his time. The reason that I am opening this review is that quote is that Sydney based label Modular is regarded as Australia’s coolest label, and it is many a musical giant who they reside upon the shoulders of.
Tonight’s Modular showcase rested upon a giant of the past – Tom Vek, a giant of the future – Kindness, and a homegrown prince destined for big things – Jonathon Boulet.
Sydneysider Jonathon Boulet was first on stage. His brand of hyper melodic ‘grunge’ created a wall of sound that seemed to stun the mostly chin-stroker crowd, industry and ‘scene’ types who had rocked up for Kindness. Boulet debuted many tracks from his upcoming album We Keep The Beat, Found The Sound, See The Need, Start The Heart (out now) with You’re A Animal being the proudest announcement of his new guitar-heavy direction.
In between Boulet and Kindness, guest DJs Architecture In Helsinki played a suitably ironic pop set that lifted the mood of the now almost full venue; then the lanky, awkward yet strangely beautiful and graceful Adam Bainbridge – Kindness – walked onto the stage. Regarded as the buzz act of this year’s South By South West music conference, the UK’s Kindness did not let down Melbourne audiences. Opening with the song Cyan from this year’s World You Need A Change Of Mind the Bainbridge and his band then moved into their delicious cover of The Replacements Swinging Party. The sexual ambiguity of this song’s lyrics seem like they were written for the androgynous frontman – “If bein' wrong's a crime, I'm serving forever / If bein' strong's your kind, then I need help here with this feather."
One criticism of Kindness’s set aired by one of the more aware members of crowd was that the 40-minute set consisted of too many covers – four in total. But, when Bainbridge interacted with a soul vocalist, they captured a beautiful sonic segment with their marriage of disco, soul, post-punk and the very now chillwave.
Tom Vek’s set was dichotomous to say the least. The recently-turned-31 Vek has embraced a sharp Mad Men-esque aesthetic and his on stage demeanor on was on the professional side of boring. Flanked by a drummer and guitarist the live sound of hits CC (You Set The Fire In Me), Nothing But Green Lights and newish single Aroused bounced around the room with the utmost sonic accuracy. But the fact it was able to bounce so freely around the room was a comment on how the crowd had almost halved since Kindness had finished.
Thank you Modular for bringing so many hip and edgy artists to my ears. Keep up the good work.
BY DAN WATT
LOVED: Kindness’s sexy aura.
HATED: The staying power of the crowd (or lack thereof).
DRANK: Other people's beer.