The Laneway festival kicked off an embarrassment of sideshow riches this past week and the Guineafowl, Portugal. The Man and Givers [pictured] triple header at The Corner was one of the best.
Guineafowl commenced the evening with an energetic and likeable set. Their flexibility shines during a stellar cover of The Cure’s “Close To Me” complete with 80s dancing that would bring a tear to a new wavers eye. Guineafowl do a stand up job and leave the stage, impressing old fans and new with their infectious tunes.
The highlight of the evening and clear crowd favourite was Portugal. The Man. Before the curtains are drawn the packed crowd are already cheering, and when the curtains are eventually drawn, the band launches straight into Triple J favourite “So American” as the crowd sings along in approval.
Sounding somewhere between David Bowie and Neil Young at times, their onstage intensity is impossible to look away from. Lead singer John Gourley almost folds himself in half while extracting distorted solos from his guitar and bassist Zachary does his utmost to beat the bejesus out of a tambourine that both appears from and disappears to nowhere.
Portugal. The Man manage to make music that is equally dreamy, sexy and at times brutal in its delivery. They play with such force and concentration that if the audience weren’t here they would be happy to jam on their own all night. Such is their talent that they segue into The Beatles “Helter Skelter” seamlessly during “The Devil”. Almost midway through the show the audience is addressed for the first time by Gourley, “This is our last night in Australia… Thank you so much this has been really amazing for us” and he smiles for the first time since walking onstage. There is a lot of rock in the guy which belies the knitted horse sweater he is wearing. The more Portugal. The Man play, the more confusing it is that they are not headlining the show. Closing up their set with “Home”, they are an extremely hard act to follow.
As Portugal. The Man leave the stage, a good portion of the crowd leave too. The once shoulder to shoulder crowd dissipates to about a third of its size before Givers even make it on to the stage which is a shame as they are actually very, very good.
The Louisiana natives are visibly chuffed to be playing, albeit to a greatly diminished crowd. “We’re givers, we’re from Louisiana and we’re very happy to be here, we love you!” calls an excited Taylor Guarisco before jumping around in circles like a helicopter in a death spin.
Vocalist/percussionist/ukulele player Tiffany Lamson wails in a tortured Marlboro Lights- and whiskey-ravaged voice and the room thankfully begins to fill up again. Lamson’s huge voice is supported by the rest of band, at times so loud it sounds like a thunderstorm hovering above the room. Like a bunch of ADHD pageant toddlers on a Red Bull bender, Givers attack the stage with an exhausting enthusiasm.
They jump around, swap instruments (a flute even appears at one point) and at one point nearly dump their lead singer into the front row. Playing hit single “Up, Up, Up” they finally get the crowd up and dancing and deliver a knockout cover of the Talking Heads classic “This Must Be The Place.” While not managing to pull the biggest crowd of the night, they manage to put on a show that deserved a lot more recognition than it got. From the looks of things they will be back before the year is through and hopefully by then the word will have spread as they really are not to be missed.
– Madison Thomas