As a kid there's nothing like the surprise of opening your presents after the seemingly endless wait for Christmas morning. After years of waiting for Bombay Bicycle Club this is exactly what they provided. Making their first, and long overdue, trip to our shores in support of Elbow, the North Londoners played two eagerly anticipated sold out shows of their own in Sydney. First up in support though was Megastick Fanfare.
Much like that small bar whose name you keep hearing but never quite manage to get to, Megastick is one of those musical names which popped up a few years ago in Sydney but whom I’ve never caught; until tonight.
Sounding similar to a rockier Animal Collective, the five-piece make rhythmic, shouty, sample-flecked experimental pop. One song switched between Foals-like fever and Peter Gabriel pop within a bar as looping keyboard riffs played off against hurried base lines. Drummer Adam Zwi did a wonderful job trying to throw songs off-kilter; his shifting beats leaving them teetering precariously on the edge between cohesive and wacked-out.
The poor sound quality unfortunately obscured whatever vocals front man Adam Connelly yelped, but I’m not sure they’re particularly discernible at the best of times. JJJ staple “June Strangelets” received a warm reception at the end of their set from an otherwise unfamiliar crowd. It seemed the first time the band really enjoyed being on stage as they started ducking and weaving to whatever beat they could find. I couldn’t quite help but feel that there was a lack of accessibility to their music but it’s good to know more off the-wall stuff like this has an audience in Sydney.
When a band enjoys every second of its performance though, that’s when you get a great show. And that’s exactly what we got from Bombay Bicycle Club. Entering to almost rabid screams from the all ages Metro crowd the North London lads lapped it up and served it right back treating us to a 1 ½ hour set that was unexpectedly fun and full of energy.
In the balmy “Always Like This” front man Jack Steadman turned his microphone to the crowd to take part in a massive sing-along. Revelling in the experience, even an unexpected squeal of feedback was simply laughed off. The jaunty ‘hoe-down’ that is “ Ivy and Gold” saw drummer Suren de Saram hammer away at a metal bar stool in the middle of a drum solo and three girls in front of me in the crowd dance a jig.
They’re also tight to a fault. BBC play an versatile mix of elements from tropical pop to melancholy grunge and indie dance to unselfconsciously fun country folk. They’re able to pull it off though because they do it with a restraint and maturity beyond their years. They know when to let a melody speak for itself and when to go all out. Steadman’s rather monotone vocals and sing-along hooks also bring everything together.
“How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep” kept its understated sweetness while the eerie “Bad Timing” had the overblown swagger it deserves. A tight drum roll and a mild song would explode into a wall of noise and light. So unusually electric was most of their performance that the upbeat and jangly “Shuffle” seemed to lack energy. Still, along with “What If” it provided exactly the encore the crowd wanted to hear. A show well worth the wait.
How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep
Dust on the Ground
Lights Go Out, Words Gone
Rinse Me Down
Ivy and Gold
Cancel On Me
Always Like This
What You Want