Live Review: Millions, Step-Panther, Manikins

16 July 2012 | 12:26 pm | Jessie Hunt

Manikins' tight indie rock performance, Step-Panther's unstudied, lo-fi shoegaze set and Millions' polished, delicately-arranged tracks. Yet the common thread running between these bands is their capacity for emotion, both in their lyrics and in their live performance.

Manikins were an incredibly impressive opening act, more than capable of holding their own despite the talent of the acts to come. Their neat, rhythm-driven arrangements belie their youth and their simplistic, blunt lyrics seemed to take on a kind of poetic quality – “I left my heart in a place/Where no one else can find it.” An undercurrent of emotion seems to run through the rather heavy lyrics and flawless arrangements that this band presents.

Step-Panther, with inimitable style, presented an unstudied set; live, their tracks take on a rougher, rock'n'roll edge. My Neck, proved a set highlight – it is so full of angst and passion, with addictive, bad-boy lyrics: “I was once a man, who stood on moral ground/But when you smoked me out, you burned that bastard down/And now I'm shooting every cop in town.” Their visceral, unaffected set is definitely worth seeing live; it is impossible to capture that energy on record.

Millions, returning to Sydney for one of their first headline shows here, played a fittingly refined, slick set. The band packed a ludicrously large audience into GoodGod's tiny Danceteria; the room seemed crammed with people. Their tunes seem drawn from a vast collection of genres and sounds – surf rock to indie music to blues. Millions' music is executed with a kind of subtle showmanship, their performances getting more assertive with each show. Their frontman, whether consciously or not, is an expert at delivering a long, direct, plaintive stare into the audience; this seems to bring out the winsome, longing characteristic in much of the band's lyrics. This emotional quality is testament to the fact that it is possible to combine a polished, tight performance with genuinely emotional music and came out particularly clearly during the set-closer, Slow Burner, as well as in their cover of a track from Dirty Dancing.

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From the bad boy angst of Step-Panther to the delicate, slick emotional climate of Millions' set, with Manikins' simple rock poetry thrown in for good measure, Friday night at GoodGod was testament to the importance of emotion in music – proof that there is power in music with meaning.