Live Review: Sleepmakeswaves + The Incredible Kicks + Marlow + Echotide - The Crow Bar, Brisbane (14.09.12)

Descending into the bowels of the Crow Bar, Echotide rewarded the earlycomers with their traditional-sounding brand of post-rock. Although new onto the scene, the trio is made up of members of Arcane and Caligula’s Horse and the experience shows in the tightness of their set. Starting out with even the drums on delay effect, I thought this might be post-rock dialled up to 11.

However, the trio display a keen understanding of the genre, with a grand and stately brand of post-rock featuring several well executed false buildups. The guitar alternated between hazy textured wash, punctuated by ringing piano chords, and interlocking lines of melody with the keyboard. All of this was underpinned by the utter control of the drumming in the buildup of each song (with some particularly fine cymbal-work). The keyboard added a grand and structured tone to every song. However, it had a slight lack of variation in both tone and playing style compared to the other instruments.

Next up was Sydney-siders, Marlow. While otherwise possessing an alternative sound, the guitarist seemed to be a post-rock band member who accidentally auditioned for the wrong band. His delay, tremolo and typically post-rock sound added key variation to the band’s sound, while also being able to erupt into melody when needed. With the guitar focused on adding texture, this left melody duties solely to the vocalist, with his high cutting voice making the most of the sonic space. The churning basslines also featured prominently, while the drums felt fairly constrained. Perhaps this wasn’t quite the crowd for them but they still received a good reception for their efforts.

Then the off-kilter rock ‘n’ roll of genre chameleons The Incredible Kicks was let loose upon the crowd. A bubbling pot of influences and eras, the trio’s sound varies so wildly and yet naturally even within songs that it is impossible to attempt to categorise them. With psych-fuelled riffs giving way to soulful choruses by all band members and general mayhem on stage, it sounds like there’s at least another two members hidden somewhere on stage. Frontman Travis Hair led the band’s beautifully chaotic assault on the audience, shining on vocal and guitar duty, even showing off some keyboard skills briefly. Each song is a mish-mash of wonderfully crazy sounds that really shouldn’t work together. 90’s soft grunge meets Queen? Check. Something that if you stared long enough at it, you would swear was grandiose prog in a blender with Bowie and probably the kitchen sink for good measure. I’d never heard of them before and once they had finished, I was left asking myself ‘Why not?’

And as the crowd swelled, headliner sleepmakeswaves took to the stage. On their aptly named ‘Now We Rise And Are Everywhere’ tour, the prolific tourers soon invigorated the crowd with their energetic stagemenship and roaring guitars. Although the first song felt a little loose, the band soon settled into their normal slickness. A wide range of material was covered, from old discography to fan-favourites from their latest album and even a preview of some new songs. These new songs demonstrated quite a different sound, with electronica-tinged guitar melodies, stunningly deep groove from the drums and overall a much more rigidly structured and less wild sound. These were received well but it was “A Gaze Blank and Pitiless As The Sun” and opener “To You They Are Birds, To Me They Are Voices In The Forest” that had the crowd in rapture.

These two songs showcased the band’s abilities to the full. Screaming lines of melody soared over tangled guitar textures, before being destroyed by a vicious counter melody from the other instruments. Songs rose from quiet, intricate depths to crushing highs to only collapse to nothingness and explode stronger and more joyously than ever. All the while, amazingly creative drumming formed the living, pulsing heart of the set and the enthralled crowd. It is this wild, utterly triumphant sound that has made sleepmakeswaves one of the leaders in the current generation of post-rock bands and left the crowd utterly destroyed by the end of the gig.