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Live Review: Methyl Ethel, Rabbit Island

2 November 2018 | 12:27 pm | Craig English

"They take the stage five members strong to bring the fullness of their show to life, the slick vocal hooks and Parliament-esque bass grooves too infectious not to dance to."

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It's honestly so perfect. For Rabbit Island, Howler’s intimacy - the lighting, the masterful sound quality and full-bodied acoustic resonance of the venue - gives Amber Fresh and her reserved but rhythmical contingent everything they need to take the audience on a blissful journey through a dreamy, almost meditative, soundscape. They can't quite get there, though, but it is certainly not for lack of trying on their part. Fresh’s instantly soothing vocals and enticing melodies are met with a barrage of mindless chatter and noise from the audience, who can't seem to find it in themselves to afford this otherwise gorgeous band the respect they deserve. Respect that takes the bafflingly simple form of shutting the fuck up.

“But surely,” you say, “by the time Methyl Ethel take to the stage, people find the reverence they’d so aberrantly misplaced during the previous act and give due consideration to the band, as well as everyone around them who’d presumably paid money to enjoy their unfairly catchy brand of funk-pop. SURELY!” One might have thought, but those honestly incapable of shutting their face holes are a distraction for many avid fans of the Perth four-piece.

For this evening’s offering, they take the stage five members strong to bring the fullness of their show to life, the slick vocal hooks and Parliament-esque bass grooves too infectious not to dance to. Weeds Through The Rind is ushered in by a staccato keyboard melody before the tightness of the rhythm section gives it a cool and consistent pulse. Scream Whole catches otherwise impeccably-voiced frontman Jake Webb off guard as he forgets the lyrics, but the ecstatic audience are only too keen to help him out – the one time their unsolicited input is ironically welcome.

Ubu is the biggest crowd-pleaser of the night. Understandably so, too. Methyl Ethel have managed to distil the addictiveness of caffeine into musical form and this reviewer will still be singing “Why’d you have to go and cut your hair?” in his head a full 12 hours later. No sooner has Howler reached fever pitch, though, than the show comes to a rather abrupt end. Playing for a modest 58 minutes, the band leave the stage, and the instant raising of the house lights leaves no room for an encore, despite frantic chants of “ONE MORE SONG!” from devotees and revellers bunched up against the front of the stage.