Magic Silver White + Hammocks and Honey + Houlette – The Workers Club (16.01.11)

There are an awful lot of indie bands cropping up out of the wood work who are cranking out the lo-fi dream pop or ’80s synth soundscapes like their synthesisers are about to be put out to pasture. These bands all seem to find their home at The Workers Club and their Summer Series, which gives up-and-coming local talent a chance to strut their stuff on a lazy, beer-fuelled arvo.

Up first were Hammocks and Honey, who belong to the aforementioned lo-fi dream pop land of ambient, wistful electronic noise, washed out beats and reverb-laden vocals. The two piece were enshrouded in billowing smoke from the machine that was working overtime, and I imagine would’ve done well to create an ethereal atmosphere with the right lighting, but mid evening when it’s still light out, the effect was redundant and did nothing to disguise the band’s lack of stage presence and performing prowess. The music itself was very slow moving with an air of avant garde mystery, and Prudence Rees-Lee’s vocals were sweet, but the two piece standing stock still in front of their synthesisers and staring at the ground was not at all interesting to watch, and the general minimalist structure and chilled out tone of their songs has indeed been done to death. If you’re looking for a new come down soundtrack then check out Hammocks and Honey. If you’re looking for an engaging, lively performance then perhaps go elsewhere.

Next on the billing were the lovely Houlette, whose songs are so pretty they’re almost impossible not to enjoy. The three piece play melodious, melancholic folk tinged pop, and whilst their music is hardly mind blowing, it is inherently beautiful, and their set was short, sweet and a delight to witness. Main vocalist Felicity Cripps has a gorgeous voice, and hearing her croon in French during their opener sent shivers down the spine. Houlette are a must see for fans of soft-pop, folk-infused bliss.

Magic Silver White opened with a loud, dark instrumental number that had strong gothic nuances, and made for a pleasant change from the mellow ambience of the support acts. The local five piece are a super group of sorts, featuring members of Qua and Mountains in the Sky with front woman JoJo Petrina reining in the chaos of their massive Eurovision-meets-’80s pop sound. The band themselves are not an animated bunch, but their music takes on a life of its own with the sweeping, melodramatic synth and three part harmonies that, for the most part, went off without a hitch. If you’re one of the people who aren’t shunning Triple J for their alleged decline into mainstream pop, then you would’ve heard the delightful “Doowah” on the radio, which featured early in the set. Fortunately, Magic Silver White aren’t a one trick pony, and they followed it up with more killer pop anthems, highlights of which were the use of a musical saw in the track “Rain”, and the band closing the night by taking on a bossa nova beat and turning it into a synth heavy wonderland of dance and intrigue.

All in all, it was an enjoyable evening of music at the Workers, with Magic Silver White proving to be a definite highlight of the Summer Series so far.