Live Review: Moon Duo

12 December 2015 | 1:49 pm | Guido Farnell

"It's a glittering sludge of noise that at once has heft, but with an underlying playfulness adds a certain lightness."

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Moon Duo's appearance at the opening night of NGV's Andy Warhol/Ai Weiwei exhibition turns the evening into, as it would have been termed in the '60s, a rather extravagant happening. 

Featuring iconic pieces from both artists, the scale of this exhibition is simply massive.  Warhol gives us the silkscreened celebrity portraits, Coke bottles, Campbell's soup cans, Cocteau inspired drawings and underground film stars while Ai Weiwei, influenced by Warhol, delivers huge installations of bicycles, lots of expertly crafted porcelain flowers, gold statues of the animals that represent the Chinese zodiac and one tonne cubes of tea.

The white room features portraits of and quotes from Rosie Batty, Julian Assange and Gary Foley, among others, all made of LEGO courtesy of public donations of blocks to the NGV after LEGO refused to sell to Weiwei, claiming that it could not approve the use of its blocks for political works. Rather than being an odd juxtaposition of the work of two artists that never met, exhibition organisers have found the connectors to reveal Warhol's influence on Weiwei. It all adds up to a wonderfully immersive experience that feels like the psychedelic playground of these artists' ideas and imagination.

After sitting on a beanbag under a mirror ball to take in some vintage footage of Warhol's underground movie stars, you kind of wish The Velvet Underground were going to play here tonight. Impossible as that may be Moon Duo, who with the addition of a drummer are actually a trio, are an entirely appropriate choice to round off the evening. Thanks to a stack of Marshalls they brought with them, Moon Duo are one of the few bands we have seen here who manage to amp up the volume to deliver a glorious blast of hazy mind expanding psychedelic music. They work driving motorik beats, Ripley Johnson's gloriously fuzzed up guitar solos, dense drones and Sanae Yamada's delightful swirls of filter swept synths and organ into a rough but feel-good mix. 

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It's a glittering sludge of noise that at once has heft, but with an underlying playfulness adds a certain lightness. Playing tunes off this year's lauded Shadow of The Sun and back catalogue favourites, Moon Duo hypnotise fans with retro psychedelic sounds and animated op art projections.  The crowd clamour for more but there are no encores. We leave the NGV as they play Walk On The Wild Side, thinking about this week's passing of Warhol superstar Holly Woodlawn who inspired the song's lyrics.