Live Review: Methyl Ethel – Newtown Social Club, Sydney (03.09.15)

They’ve been coined “the next Tame Impala” and aside from sharing a home city of Perth, Methyl Ethel are experiencing a similar national hype with the former. The three-piece played to a packed room at Sydney’s Newtown Social Club, following a performance at the weekend’s Volumes Festival. Despite the crowd, they remained humble and ran their seamless set like a support act, with no encore.

Methyl Ethel may not be the most charismatic Australian band on stage but their music does stand on its own. The experimental instrumentation and soulful lyrics kept everyone staring at the stage. Lead singer and lyricist Jake Webb counted down the songs before he would “get out of our hair,” despite the fact that this was their headline show. Most of the crowd was seeing the band for the first time and so a lack of expectations made for honest interactions, whether it was Webb shouting back a “G’day” at someone or thanking us for coming along.

In that style, Methyl Ethel played what are probably their most well known singles ‘Rogues’ and ‘Twilight Driving’ early on. A few crowd members were singing along but most were intrigued by their dedication, staring focused down at their instruments and watching the rich sound we hear on their new record come to life. Webb seems shy for a frontman but he still has an Aussie sense of humour: “This set, I think, is dedicated to Annie Hall and all of the people here wearing stripes.”

The intimacy (and darkness) of Newtown Social Club made it feel like we’d stepped into a demo recording, for the elongated jams and non-climactic sequence. The reverb on “Also Gesellschaft” sounded great and I’d even go so far as to compare Webb’s vocal expression to something of an early Jeff Buckley, with eyes shut and face scrunched up. In between tracks, the band members tuned their equipment, took a sip of beer and casually shuffled around. For a set celebrating their record Oh Inhumane Spectacle, ironically it was at once both dreamy and very human.

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