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POND @ Freo.Social gets 8/10


Pond @ Freo.Social

w/ Peter Bibby and Bexx
Saturday, November 7, 2020

8/10

COVID may have killed international tours for the time being, but luckily for us Pond is a homegrown export that we get to keep for ourselves for the time being. The internationally beloved psych-cum-arena rockers played an emotive set at Freo.Social on Saturday night that could well have been played to thousands.

BEXX

Proceedings were kicked off by local electronic pop artist BEXX, who was backed by a collective of musicians more than capable in bringing her productions to life. The band came out dressed in orange jumpsuits and facemasks, jumping around to the pulsating synths of Benny Benassi’s Satisfaction. The set didn’t let up from there. Electronic-tinged R&B and pop was the order of the day for this collection, with heavy dashes of synths and sequences that made it sometimes sound like Lily Allen and Giorgio Moroder’s lovechild. Recent singles Hold Tight and Burn It Down particularly tore the roof off (see our review here), and Corporate B*tch was another highlight. BEXX is one to watch – here’s hoping an EP comes soon.

Peter Bibby

Local legend Peter Bibby was on next and he did not disappoint. Bibby is lowkey one of the nation’s best songwriters, slowly composing his own grizzled version of the great Australian songbook over the years. On his latest album Marge (see our review) he has gotten heavier and betrayed a more Drones-ey influence, but his ragged man-on-the-street urban folk tales still underpin everything.

The newfound heaviness shone through on the evening, as Bibby came out dressed the part with electric guitar in hand and a bandana on. He looked like Axl Rose let loose on a footy pitch. Bibby’s jersey – for the Indigenous Marathon Foundation – was appropriate for a man of such heart. Bibby’s track selection was a mix of new and old, but all were imbued with some serious guitar crunch.

Goodbye Johnny was given the heavier treatment, as was old classic Hates my Boozin’. Whyalla is a future cult classic from the new album and it went off a treat, with its thundering Sabbath-esque riffs rattling the ceiling. Newer track Your Mum was similarly epic, and fan favourite Medicine punched hard when wrapped in distortion. Perhaps the highlight was a great spoken-word aside by Bibby acknowledging some of the aforementioned Whyalla’s notable residents. In typical everyman fashion he acknowledged that these Aussies may not have ended up being true world-beaters, but they’re champions nonetheless well worth having a beer with.

Pond

Pond must have been energised by the openers, as they came out and delivered a spirited and heartfelt set. Performance-wise the band was as theatrical and tight as you’d expect, coming off with just as much energy and bombast as when they played the opening set for Mac DeMarco early this year. Whether playing to the entirety of Red Hill Auditorium or to this indoor setting, the lads are always on point.

Frontman Nick Allbrook pranced, strutted and commanded the mic with conviction and drew the crowd in. Hand Mouth Dancer was a great opener, its sequencer riff and beautiful chorus translating well live. The band ticked off some big hits early, with the epic Tasmania and Sweep Me Off My Feet getting the crowd pumping.

The best element of the set was the track selection. With more time to play, the band embraced some of their artier instincts and also pulled out some deep cuts. Following the opening salvo was Don’t Look at the Sun, an oldy originally from 2008 that since featured on last year’s live compilation Sessions. It was ice-cool live; a foreboding dance number driven by bouncing bass and non-ironically great cowbell.

Pond

Burnt Out Star saw Allbrook whip out his flute for a rendition of a one of the band’s more arty, winding numbers. It worked well on stage even if it was a bit long in the tooth. Whatever Happened to the Million Head? was another older track, a proggy tune whose initial Bo Diddley beat gave way to psychedelic freakouts. Things got more straightforward with the pummelling riffs of Giant Tortoise giving way to more arena rock pleasers in Paint Me Silver and Daisy.

But Pond saved the best until last, with the final leg of the show reserved for their most cathartic tracks. The amazing one-two punch of The Weather and Edge of the World is Pond at its most spacious and beautiful. The chanted ending (“If the coke heads get you down/ If Gina Rinehart gets you down”) was a fitting closer – you may as well add “COVID” to the list. The song ends with “We’ve got the water for now.” This may have been a dig at our sheltered WA lifestyle when it was written, but perhaps the song’s meaning has flipped in current times. There are a lot of things getting us down right now, but with the likes of Bibby and Pond out playing the days pass by that much easier.

MATIJA ZIVKOVIC

Photos by Adrian Thomson

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