24.06.2019

Methyl Ethel caught their Melbourne crowd off-guard with some curious song experiments

Methyl Ethel
1 / 4
Words by Matilda Elgood
Photos by Andrew Friend

The Perth art-rockers dabbled in some interesting song alterations. Did they all hit the mark? Not sure.

After releasing third album, Triage back in February, Methyl Ethel have finally taken the record on a national tour, stopping over in Melbourne for a two-night stint at The Forum. Ada Lea and BRONCHO would fill the supports easing the Thursday night crowd into the main attraction.

A dark stage and ominous lighting welcomed frontman, Jake Webb, who kicked off the set alone. As Webb’s vocals began, the rest of the band stormed the stage; they started with a slow number which was somewhat of a flat start. Perhaps they were simply setting the night up, easing into proceedings.

The stage with simple, yet powerful visuals always trump a crowded set design. And powerful, almost morose visuals they had – like default screensavers on an old Windows computer.

Methyl Ethel took a lot of care in curating the night’s setlist. It was not as simple as writing a bunch of songs in no specific order; they had crafted a performance with each song bleeding into the next with extended intros and outros, making it difficult to decipher where the last song finished and the next began.

The room didn’t hear from lead singer Webb until halfway through the set, where the music finally stopped for a moment. The man of few words would stop sporadically to say a few words, “thanks Melbourne, you’re always so kind to us”, before continuing to own the stage with his fluid movements.

The Perth-based band reached fan-favourite, ‘Twilight Driving’ with the welcome of fans roaring at the familiar song. Although ‘Twilight Driving’ was played a little differently to recent live sets; the band gave it a Triage twist with a slower pace and more synths. All in all, it was less rocky than the track we have come to recognise.

The artistic endeavour to rework an older song to sound more cohesive with newer material can be respected, but I can’t help but wonder if the triple j fans who voted for it in the 2015 Hottest 100 enjoyed the alteration.

Tying up the set, Methyl Ethel saved the best until last with ‘Ubu’, ‘Ruiner’, ‘Scream Whole’ and lastly, ‘Drink Wine’. After a more subdued start, the hits finally picked things up. It may have been a work night, but the Thursday night crowd roared for the Perth band to perform an encore. Webb returned on stage surprising punters as they turned to exit – just a quick wave and he’d left us again.

Before finishing off the night, Webb did confess that they will “be back soon I promise”. What this entails? Who knows. A new album already perhaps? A big festival slot? Only time will tell.

Highlight: Jake being a bit cheeky and teasing the crowd for an encore.

Lowlight: Crowd talking through the quieter moments, never cool.

Crowd favourite: ‘Scream Whole’.