Live Review: Art vs Science + Kilter + Nicole Millar – Oxford Art Factory

Art vs Science have come full circle, performing a sold out show at the Oxford Art Factory over the weekend, a stage they’ve graced before way back in 2008, where it all began. The electro-house trio, or maestros of dance if you will, have become a much loved staple for a lot of Aussies, which ain’t surprising considering how well their musical stylings, boundless energy and wacky sense of humour consistently translate into great live performances. The band have been on hiatus, as Jim Finn puts it, ‘getting their shit together’, working on a new EP titled Create/Destroy of which their current tour has kicked off in tribute of.

Fitting in nicely as the first support, a very pretty Nicole Millar charmed audiences with her smile and soft spokenness. This delicate facade however hid quite a melodic and versatile voice, as she along with her partner in crime Nick Matenaarproduced an intriguingly varied array of chilled electronica music. Opening with languid bass driven “Fall”, Millar’s range felt akin to Bjork’s, gliding from a rich throaty sultriness to airy high tones. It seems her sound has generated interest from a few parties, resulting in some lovely collaborations such as “Tell Me” with Golden Features, an upbeat track with rather sinister industrial (in a good way) samples and “Cosmo’s Midnight” with Phantasm which pops with catchy staccato beats and celestial synths. The duo pulled off the music’s layered complexity quite well, Matenaar inspiring as he smoothly blended samples together.

Ned East aka Kilter pretty much ran onto the stage out of nowhere and delved straight into his set without a word, opening with “They Say”, a hyperactive number incorporating calypso style drums energetically beaten out on his drum pad. Kilter’s vibrant personality emanated through his productions, encompassing everything from heavy ghetto beats to uplifting summery sounds, resulting in a wondrous experience. The hour long set continued without pause, melding mainly remixed tracks which included an extremely joyous version of Snakadaktal’s “Fall Underneath”, a soulful rhythmic take on Duke Dumont’s “I Got You”, and a surprisingly addictive rework of London Grammar’s “Hey Now”. A brand new original titled “Coward” was also thrown into the mix, laden with pounding bass, punchy beats and mournful lyrics delivered by Kimbra-esque vocals. Kilter proved a great entertainer, breathing life into each track, moving between his drum pad and snare kit, pausing to throw his sticks aside to face the crowd and mouth lyrics. His evident enjoyment of what he does is infectious and he executed a mind blowing set.

A pause for effect and theatrical drawing of curtains for Art vs Science’s entrance had given the crowd time to swell and push their way into the Oxford Art Factory’s smallish yet boldly creative space. Emerging engulfed in smokey blue haze and hunched eagerly over their instruments, the trio looked like 1980s astronauts bringing back all kinds of funk from other galaxies far far away. A spasm of epileptic lights sprung the band into action with ever popular “A.I.M Fire!” being roaringly greeted by the crowd like an old friend. Vocalists Dan McNamee and Jim Finn displayed impeccable showmanship throughout the set, McNamee with his awkward thrusts and Finn bounding around on stage tambourine swinging, channelling crazy vibes reminiscent of The Beastie Boys. The trio’s hiatus is explained by Finn as ‘getting lost on the other side of the planet’ resulting in their new EP and title track release Create/Destroy a rather mechanical electro track full of warbling synths and priceless vocal acrobatics.

The pair carried on their hijinks during new track “Everybody wants to Change”, before calling on the crowd to clap and sing along to “Magic Fountain”. The group’s endless reserves of energy are astounding and tiring to watch and they seem to be able to get the crowd to go along with anything. They’re capable of more than just frivolity though, reflecting substantial lyrical clout in cruisey melancholic tune “With Thoughts”. McNamee’s banter has the oddly theatrical comical tones of Jemaine Clement’s, as he and Finn tease their sound tech and pull out a very love-boat sounding interlude before launching into an oldie but goodie “Flippers”. Disappointingly, their usual inflatable penguin which gets thrown into the crowd was missing, but this didn’t prevent anyone from not getting down ecstatically with their flippers. “Mother”, off the new EP, follows in a more traditional sense of EDM and gave Finn a chance to show off his vocals which seemingly match the power and pleasing confident pitch of McNamee’s. Some hot guitar jamming ensued carrying through mass spirit finger action into arguably the quirkiest funkiest funniest Art vs Science track “Parlez-Vous Francais”. McNamee’s guitar jamming face was hilariously twisted as he pulled out every single 80s rock lick imaginable, playing to the audience like a bonafide rock god. The band finished off the night with the distorted notes and bouncy beat of “Hollywood”, admittedly leaving no room for encores.

True to their word, Art vs Science proved that they still got it, leaving a room full of satisfied customers. They always know how to get a party going with their raucous, infectiously fun tunes and with another EP on the table for later in the year it seems there’s no stopping them now.

The Create/Destroy EP features five tracks and is now available through iTunes >> https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/create-destroy-ep/id844791046

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