Live Review: Iowa, Sounds Like Sunset, Lyyar, Narrow Lands

20 August 2012 | 12:44 pm | Chris Familton

Narrow Lands were the first of the four guitar-heavy bands to grace the stage and they impressed with their aggressive, controlled playing that inhabits the dark and heavy end of post-rock. The bass-led Waste Of Weekend in particular balanced groove and dissonance to great effect.

Lyyar also deal in grand guitar dynamics but theirs was a much more nuanced and textured approach. Quiet/loud dynamics were prevalent in many of their songs which have a way of shifting seamlessly from intimate to widescreen without feeling contrived like some other bands writing similar music. The other plus with Lyyar is that they are an interesting band to watch, with each member inhabiting their own physical space differently, be it the guitarist's loose-limbed movement, the emphatic style of the drummer or the bassist's focused demeanor.

Sounds Like Sunset, the comparative veterans in the lineup, displayed a laid-back approach and casual performance akin to playing in a lounge room. That being said they reminded the audience of their brilliant knack for nailing a dreamy, jangling psychedelic vibe without the shoegaze pretensions or twee pop tropes that too often creep into similar acts. Playing as a trio, the band was kept in check by the great drumming of Tobey Doctor, allowing David Challinor's guitar free melodic rein across the top of the rhythm section. Word is the band are about to mix their new album, which is great news.

Melbourne's Iowa are celebrating their recently released album, Never Saw It Coming, on this tour and experiencing many of the album tracks live further enhanced the impression that these guys are one of the best new rock bands to emerge recently. Also playing as a trio they had a wonderful symmetry to their performance with the drums, guitar and bass taking equal and loud prominence in the mix. The most obvious comparison is Dinosaur Jr, who the trio acknowledge as a major influence, but they also blend in heavy dollops of visceral shoegaze and slacker '90s rock. Same Solution and the singles Complete Control and Love Song were particular standouts with Dylan Stewart's wounded Mascis vocals and gloriously ramshackle guitar-playing the icing on the cake. It was a small audience that bore witness to Iowa's brief but excellent set so hopefully word of mouth will ensure they can brutally caress more ears next time they visit Sydney.

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