Live Review: Banoffee, Klo, Lucianblomkamp, I'lls

18 November 2015 | 4:11 pm | Bryget Chrisfield

"Banoffee is an accomplished, original local artist on the rise who's well worth celebrating."

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A sign warns us that strobe lighting may be used as part of tonight's show as we wander toward Melbourne Music Week's flagship venue entrance. Down in the bowels of Former Royal Women's Hospital, a dozen or so small, square, transparent projection screens have been hung over the dancefloor since we last visited this venue for DZ Deathrays a couple of nights back, and organisers were right to be wary of crowd-surfers on that particular occasion. This evening, however, as projections mingle with multi-coloured LED lights dashing along overhead tracks, the perfect scene is set for experimental sounds. I'lls as a two-piece makes us wish we'd packed some pingers and there's lots of on-the-spot bopping with occasional head nodding going on. Although their sounds suit the underground basement surrounds, they'd probably be better appreciated the other side of midnight.

"Fucking hipster crowd," a chick sitting behind us on the rostra toward the back of this venue announces before adding, "It's RIDICULOUS!" Some warped violin kicks off Lucianblomkamp's set then a bassist joins the on-stage action and it all sounds like the soundtrack to your biggest, loudest, most realistic recurring nightmares. It's also ear-damagingly loud, so we retreat to the raised bar section. The mix settles down a bit to reveal glimpses of beauty when a vocalist takes the stage around song three. But when she leaves, there's discussion between the two remaining musicians onstage and then it's back to Lucianblomkamp's violin until he takes the mic. It's all a bit too shambolic for this pair of ears and lacks melody or a even beat to dance to.

Spotted: a Ren & Stimpy T-shirt. Also, canvas tote bags worn as backpacks (which should absolutely not become a trend). Punters get excited when they find posis down the front only to recoil from the volume then retreat backwards as Kllo commence their set. Have they added an 'l' to their name? And we've only just put two and two together and realised the male component of this musical duo, Simon Lam, is also in I'lls. Chloe Kaul, who rounds out the outfit, looks as if she might be related to Banoffee (they are similar in appearance). These more accessible melodies ebb and flow behind crowd chatter. For some reason the downstairs toilets close and we're all directed outside to use five composting portaloos, which is kind of weird and the lack of soap and water (with hand sanitiser in its place) freaks out some revellers. Back inside and a lot of audience members are trying to dance to Kllo, but many have trouble finding the beat. "This is our last song," Kaul announces before someone off stage informs that they're actually out of time. The pair obediently leave the stage to cheers.

As Banoffee (aka Martha Brown) sets up onstage we get to admire her vibrant, patterned frock coat. She commences singing, accompanying herself on keys. Brown then speaks to respectfully recognise the original owners of this land. There's some more really annoying out-of-time dancing going on in the crowd. Is this a new thing or do you lose your rhythm when you're tripping? Although alone up there, Brown regularly moves away from her console to use the full stage and projects to the back of this vast venue while grooving along. "It's so weird, you're so far away," she observes. Unexpected bleeps and pops elevate the Banoffee live experience and you can feel the bass vibrating through your chest. Her mate Oscar Key Sung comes out to lend his exquisite pipes to a song.

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There's a couple of dancers and some synchronised choreography that even Banoffee joins in with for a few sections during a song she introduces as her "latest single". Brown's voice is heavenly. At sparse intervals throughout the evening the house lights fade all the way up and then out again, which attracts cheers from the suddenly illuminated crowd. The graphics on aforementioned hanging transparent screens pulsate with the beat. Mates/couples in the house sneak arms around each other's waists and, with Brown's smart choices in creating visual interest up there onstage, we're in for a treat come Laneway (Note to organisers: Sunset slot, with no bad clashes, please?). Ninja ends on a victorious note: "I'm a fuckin' ninja now/I won't let you bring me down."

Brown encourages stage invaders during the upbeat Let's Go To The Beach, but security guards move fast to remove the first few exhibitionists before eventually giving up and allowing a handful to remain. Yep, the bad dancing contest stays open until the conclusion of Brown's very last song. Closing track I'm Not Sorry demonstrates a raver edge, but sadly some folk have already filtered out of the exits during the slow build before the climax. Banoffee is an accomplished, original local artist on the rise who's well worth celebrating. And this venue needs to stay running beyond Melbourne Music Week. For real.