Wanna see someone with zero charisma get up on stage and pretend to be Jim Morrison for half an hour, backed by grandiose overblown songs that sound a lot like U2 B-sides? Then you'd probably be into Gang Of Youths. No one speaks to, or makes any effort to connect with, the crowd through the entire set, but still they manage to come off like total arseholes, the singer in particular writhing around and crooning into the mic (still never looking into the crowd/talking/acting like anything other than Sex Appealbot2000) like he's already playing stadiums; he just forgot to write music that was good enough for one.
Luckily Sydney champions Palms are here to wash that bad taste out of our mouths. The mood changes almost the instant they get on stage and start shredding out chunks of catchy, commanding '90s-style rock with strong pop instincts and even stronger choruses. Favourites, Summer Is Done With Us, This Last Year and Love, all go down a treat, but it's a pretty consistently likeable and confident set, apart from some slower songs that the band really don't need. Cloud Control arrive on stage and immediately there's a sense of triumph. They open with Scream Rave, the first song off their latest album, Dream Cave, with singer Alister Wright in full Adidas hoodie hip hop mode, getting everyone jumping around with their hands in the air from the first bar of the distorted chanting that makes up the lyrics of the song. There's a great sense of movement here, both from these songs, which are dynamic, uplifting and impeccably performed, and from the musicians on stage, who dance and groove and sway their way through every song with totally infectious and saturating joy.
Dream Cave as a record doesn't pack quite the punch of 2010's Bliss Release, but here in this room every song makes perfect sense. Dreamy semi-psych pop delights Dojo Rising and The Smoke/ The Feeling meld effortlessly with the more conventional rock of Promises and Happy Birthday, and spirited versions of Bliss Release's This Is What I Said and Gold Canary (complete with rap breakdown in the bridge) are greeted with huge excitement from the crowd. Dream Cave, closer and title track, is a particular revelation. It's a song overflowing with sadness and soul that showcases Wright's spectacular vocals in a chorus that breaks and mends your heart all at once, to the beat of a waltz. Tonight's line-up was kind of odd, but Cloud Control is an odd band; ambitious, assured and totally committed to pushing against the outer limits of genre and conventions, creating on stage a perfect storm of these elements and cementing their position as one of Australia's best live bands.