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Live Review: Methyl Ethel, BRONCHO, Ada Lea

24 June 2019 | 12:10 pm | Shaun Colnan

"[A] trippy ride."

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There’s a particular alchemy involved in Jake Webb (aka Methyl Ethel)'s music but what that magic is precisely is hard to put your finger on. Is it the strange lizard-like onstage acrobatics? The luminous rhythm guitar or the robotic synth sounds? Perhaps it’s a combination of the three, compounded by Webb’s echoing dulcet vocals.

The Enmore Theatre, playing host to an all ages show, seemed a perfect venue for this strange smattering of art-infused Australian alt-rock-cum-psych-pop. Before the Snapchatting teenagers flooded in in droves and the main event took to the stage, openers Ada Lea and Broncho warmed up the burgeoning audience.

Montreal-based Ada Lea delivered her brand of stripped-back indie-folk music with songs like the party, a meditative slow build with soft harmonic vocals, and mercury, a dynamic song that shifted tempos several times, all the while keeping a muted post-punk ambience to match her aesthetic. The international artist was supporting and touring her upcoming debut release, what we say in private.

BRONCHO silently jigged about the stage, drenched in darkness, silhouetted by back lights. Frontman Ryan Lindsey cut a harlequin-like figure, dressed in a raincoat with a Mac DeMarco-esque cap and swagger and matching airy, surfy guitar riffs. The vocals were fuzzy to the point of being unintelligible but there were some distinct songs in a mostly monotonous set, the fun and flippant riff from Sandman one such example.

Then came Perth’s Methyl Ethel, the main attraction, led by Webb in the five-piece variation of the live band. There was little chat and the band got right down to business with strobes flashing for a ghostly effect. All The Elements was a trippy ride with melodic synths and a dreamlike riff, capped off by the refrain, “There’s something in my head/But I can’t get it out.” 

Twilight Driving was a blast from the past, a nostalgic dream-pop tune from the band’s first LP, Oh Inhuman Spectacle, released back in 2015. Purple lights melded with the art deco ceiling and the room spun.

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Tracks from Triage like Real Tight and What About the 37º? certainly got the crowd moving but the popular Ubu from the band’s second album, Everything Is Forgotten, shone; the unfailing rock beat and the playful guitar melded magically with the refrain, “Why’d you have to go and cut your hair?