Live Review: Nite Jewel, Holy Balm, Buzz Kull & Astral People DJs

1 February 2013 | 1:11 pm | Andrew McDonald

Despite a never quite seamless set, the talent of this always entertaining, occasionally brilliant, group shone throughout.

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Kicking off the lush noise and pounding rhythms to come, Astral People DJs played to the crowd's more playful side, with beat-driven remixes of pop classics and contemporary dance grooves. Before long, Buzz Kull, tonight performing as a trio, wandered onto the stage and inauspiciously began their set. The Sydney darkwave outfit set their mood from the first notes, with cold and artificial drum beats (playing from a Macbook, as seems to be near essential these days) and lush, '80s post-punk gothic keyboard sounds filling the club. Ian Curtis-esque vocals are never to everyone's taste, but Buzz Kull certainly knew how to rock the insular, miserable casbah. Nearly entirely humourless, save for the frontman attire choice of hotpants and Nike sneakers, this kind of music serves as an odd opening act, despite how well it is performed.

Once on stage, Holy Balm worked their tune up into their first song. A very unique act, the three piece's drum machine and synthesiser-driven brand of experimental pop manages to eschew comparisons for the most part. There's a little Siouxsie Sioux in the vocals, and a little of the 'always on the precipice of popularity' Chromatics-style electronica in the grooves, but the downright fun and mature pop sensibilities hidden amongst the initially abrasive songs are utterly unique. The jungle-influenced rhythms had the crowd dancing with ease. Truly a live act worth seeing.

After a rather lengthy wait, Nite Jewel slinked onto the stage. Whilst ostensibly a group act, there's no denying that this is frontwoman Ramona Gonzales' show. Gonzales' voice is one of the most underrated and gorgeous in modern pop music, and she wasted no time busting out the high notes and sustained wails. With tracks mainly culled from her last album, including highlight One Second Of Love, the band never quite showed off the ethereal and dreamy music they do best, relying on a more band-driven and punchy setlist – suitable considering the opening acts, though a touch unfortunate. Disappointing tech troubles with the keyboard hindered the band a few times throughout their set, though the sheer professionalism and charisma of the foursome turned these moments into nothing more than brief, amusing interludes. Despite a never quite seamless set, the talent of this always entertaining, occasionally brilliant, group shone throughout.