Live Review: Clubfeet, I'lls

10 July 2012 | 3:02 pm | Shailla Van Raad

Toff In Town calls to mind a cavern in the midst of Melbourne city, sandwiched between the vertical urban sprawl of clubs and gallery spaces. So it is here we find ourselves on Thursday night pushing past more than 200 cool kids who eagerly wait to get their itches (for some experimental music laced with guitar effects) scratched.

Walking in, we are enveloped by the lazy and hazy vocal of Simon Lam from Melburnian locals I'lls. Through their music, the band create a multi-layered alien world of surrealism inspired by '80s distortion fiends such as My Bloody Valentine. Lam's vocal obscurity loops through unconventional sounds to dominate the landscape of Take Higher Ground. Together with the break beat drums, the music is unnerving, perhaps something to rest in the background of a melancholic indie thriller. Eventually, the keyboard melodies become less random to become a welcome accompaniment for Lam during Thrice, one of the more up-tempo tunes by I'lls. Yet the main ingredient of resonating guitar is never lost.

After a break, during which everyone rushes to the bar to top up, Clubfeet give us an entrance worthy of alternative-prima donnas incorporated into art installation. Using the urban performance space to their advantage, they project a short loop of film as stage background. It depicts the torsos and heads of emaciated women (and perhaps men, not sure) and others in Mickey Mouse hats that pose and move unnaturally. After some time, our guests of honour, Clubfeet, emerge. The five-piece comprise South Africans who've now adopted Melbourne as their new home. They celebrate the release of double-A side City Of Light/This Time in their first Australian shows. Like the support, Clubfeet's '80s roots resonate in their highly rotated triple j hit, City Of Light. The crowd responds to this with the most enthusiasm they display all night and there's even some foot shuffling going on. The vocals step up a notch here, not sounding as disaffected as they do in Edge Of Extremes and Broken Hearted. Clubfeet's dual synth action coupled with stringed distortion creates a resonance of new world electronica. At times, echoes of The Modern Lovers can almost be heard amidst the smoke and loop antics.

When Clubfeet play Teenage Suicide from their 2010 debut record Gold On Gold, it's confusing, with simple ferocity and underdeveloped lyrics seeming out of place here. It is obvious the band have gone into a more ethereally painted electronic direction of late.

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