Funky is usually a word that causes a collective cringe amongst those of a certain disposition. But it’s really the best way to describe Pond. The band’s sound is a heady mix of Midnite Vultures-era Beck, mid-70s Bowie, Roxy Music and British psychedelia. In contrast to his near-motionless role playing bass in Tame Impala (a band in which three of Pond also play), Nick Allbrook is a dynamo frontman, moving around the stage with boundless energy.
Their set drew heavily from their most recent album, Frond; one of last year’s best and most overlooked releases. ‘Annie Orangetree’ and ‘Betty Davis (Come Down From The Heavens To Save Us)’ are glam stompers that got plenty of people at the front moving. A slower number, ‘Sunlight Cardigan’, was a woozy, soulful psych-pop ballad full of feeling.
At first, it didn’t seem like much of the crowd were too interested or got it (there was the occasional call to “play a Tame Impala song” that was met with good humour from the band) but Pond slowly won them over with their charisma and energy. A mere side project Pond is not. They’re a brilliant band in their own right and deserve to be recognised as such.
Another album that was a highlight of 2010, MGMT’s Congratulations marked a significant change from the band’s debut, Oracular Spectacular. Gone was the electro-melding madness and instead the group presented an album of mid-80s British indie pop produced with Sonic Boom of Spacemen 3.
Upon release, the album took a lot of people expecting an album choc-full of songs like ‘Time To Pretend’ and ‘Electric Feel’ by surprise. Judging by the overall reaction to this show, some people are still having trouble grasping the change.
All of Congratulations got an airing with smatterings of Oracular Spectacular in between. The contrasting reception for songs off of one album or the other was marked.
When the “hits” were wheeled out, the reaction was frenzied, bordering on mayhem. As soon as it ended, the dicking about amongst friends, the Facebook photos and the loud talking began.
Musically, the material from Congratulations was a lot more dynamic and interesting. Played live, a lot of it had a very Beatlesque feel to it (1967 Beatles), especially ‘I Found A Whistle’, ‘Flash Delirium’ and ‘Someone’s Missing’.
The best part of the show was after the mimed version of ‘Kids’ (the song to get the biggest audience response). They followed it up with Congratulations’ 12-minute centrepiece, ‘Siberian Breaks’: a song with at least eight different songs within it. It’s the track that best exemplifies the band’s stylistic shift as well as the disinterest the band’s more mainstream following has for the newer material (highlighted by people leaving, chattering and taking photos of themselves).
Playing ‘Siberian Breaks’ directly after their biggest hit could be taken as quite an antagonistic move but if MGMT want to be seen as more than a colourful fad, it’s a move in the right direction.
We await their next move.
– Michael Hartt