Live Review: Methyl Ethel, Ada Lea

28 June 2019 | 5:43 pm | Stephen Munchenberg

"The band’s sound was deeply rhythmic, the mood shaped by the darkness."

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Having released third album, Triage, earlier this year, and gracing the stage of Laneway Festival shortly after, Perth’s Methyl Ethel returned to Adelaide for a captivating performance at The Gov.

The sound mix was below par for opener Ada Lea and the Canadian’s performance was a little underwhelming. A sole fan stood near the stage, while the rest of us hung back, mostly uninspired. The room was half-full, but this quickly changed after the completion of her set, filling to near-capacity and the mix was perfect for the headline act. 

Methyl Ethel is the brainchild of Jake Webb. He took to the stage in near-darkness, starting things off solo with a few moments of atmospheric guitar noodling, before he was joined by the full band. Opening with H1 N1 A, from their earliest EP, didn’t excite the crowd. Putting down the guitar, Webb walked off and sang the opening lines of the next song (another obscure track), from somewhere backstage, returning front and centre soon after. The band’s sound was deeply rhythmic, the mood shaped by the darkness.

With the crowd seeming a little subdued after these first few songs, Webb urged us, “Don't be scared of what you don't know, everything's gonna be okay.” After this, they launched into more familiar territory, with Trip The Mains and Hip Horror, two thumping tracks from the latest album. Twilight Driving from the first album, Oh Inhuman Spectacle, was a highlight of the early part of the set.

While much of the music seemed unfamiliar to many present and the lyrics were near impossible to comprehend, the crowd was rapt. The new material translated extremely well to the stage. The favourites, however, were left to the very end of the show, with everyone uniting to sing heartily along to Ubu’s refrain: “Why’d you have to go and cut your hair.

Webb had an intense stage presence and the small talk was brief – a shout-out to a long-lost cousin in the crowd and a joke about frequenting the dark web. The five-piece band was well rehearsed and after 75 minutes they left the stage to thunderous applause.

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