Photography by David Harris
Even Sunday night didn't halt Melbourne's appetite to party.
On two icy Autumn evenings that kept much of the city in covers, fervent fans of indie-electronica heartthrobs Crooked Colours showed up in full force for what was essentially sold-out weekend shows of furious frolicking.
Triple j Unearthed veterans Kayex and Nyxen were first to take stage and command The Forum Theatre, which by no means is a straightforward feat. Their respective brands of electronic-pop varied widely between them, carving niches in the night.
Dynamo Perth duo Kayex turned drifting crowds into obedient foot soldiers, banging out established singles like ‘My Friends’, a foray into what ZHU might sound like with less grunge, and ‘The Get Up’, summing up much of why Daft Punk are their muses.
If no one had heard of Sydney-sider Nyxen before, they sure as hell will be listening closely now. A one-woman powerhouse commanding more instruments on stage than I could recall, her genre pool stretches blends of future to tropical house, evident in her multiple EPs/singles, but it was her impressive take on ‘Sweet Disposition’ that sent the theatre into a frenzy.
Blinking stage theatrics and the warped wormhole introduction of ‘Hold On’ summoned the trio on stage. The single signalled how seemingly second nature dance bangers are to Crooked Colours, and the crowd were in unison.
‘Show Me’ and ‘Just Breathe’ shifted audiences into significantly laid-back trances and vocalist Slabber’s strength was shimmering. An ode to their triple j Like A Version cover of Baby Bash’s ‘Suga Suga’ saw live improvisation, with extra reverb on vocals and harder hitting booms flung at the crowd to their delight.
Perhaps the beginning of the set was merely an appetiser, but the latter half of the show was when it reached its true apex. ‘Never Dance Alone’ saw Ladyhawke decimate walls in a balancing act of sentimentality and bass destruction, and every climax of tracks’ ends from ‘I Hope You Get It Now’ and ‘Do It Like You’ further ruptured minds and hearts. The group have emphasised that they always produce with live performances in mind, and the sonic herniation was an attack on the senses.
‘Flow’ and ‘Perfect Run’, by far their most revered exports, followed suit. Bloody hell, these tracks were never meant for headphones. Where the former is a classic example of how a meticulous, brilliantly composed EDM anthem can transcend global barriers, the latter exemplifies the trio outstandingly.
The entirety of ‘Perfect Run’ and its six minutes consists of ambient synths and intricate tickles that mimic landscapes and realms (their World tour was aptly named after it). These then transition into trance-like entities like clockwork, before shifting back into a dance mould that’s familiar to their signature. The track almost exists in three different parts, but experiencing the insanity live, it’s primarily six minutes of alchemy.
A double-edged sword of their performance was that even though the set-list often interchanged between albums (leaning towards Langata), associating their tracks to each album was much harder live. It’s also telling the show closed on a track from Vera, wherein they first broke onto the scene in force.
The region of Nairobi which the band credits their exotic and cultural samples might be more evident in tracks like ‘I’ll Be There’ or ‘Langata’ but, beyond a few exceptions, it’s challenging to tell them apart, live or streamed. Intricate background samples of fauna on ‘Heart String’, for example, are immediately drowned.
It’s no matter, as the boys are obviously fond of experimentation and plasticity. Their genre-defying productions are a blessing and one thing’s certain – you’ll never dance alone.
Highlight: When ‘Perfect Run’ came on. So. Many. Piggybacks.
Lowlight: Arbitrary, but the band was void of interaction with the crowd besides hellos and goodbyes. New album Langata champions connection with audiences, but the band certainly let their music do the talking.
Crowd Favourite: A tie between ‘Flow’ and ‘Perfect Run’.