Live Review: PVT - Phoenix Public House

29 May 2012 | 6:07 pm | Samson McDougall

PVT are nothing if not themselves, and do nothing if not remain true to their own sonic directives and style.

More PVT More PVT

Outside of a Laneway Festival performance last year, it's been a long time between Melbourne drinks for Sydney/London tech rockers PVT. We find the Phoenix in the ballpark of three-quarter full, the ideal capacity for punter comfort but on the shy side of what we would've expected for such an act. A low pulsing thrum builds through the PA as the headliners finish tweaking their rather elaborate set up. PVT tentatively enter the set with a lo-fi keys and a bass-heavy number before frontman Richard Pike straps on a bass and they launch into a markedly more upbeat newbie, Evolution. From here the thing descends into darkness as they unleash a little of the awkward menace we've been craving. Last album Church With No Magic's Light Up Bright Fires falls on the room like a cloud before Pike introduces the band and asks our permission to allow them to try out some more new shit.

Through to the mid-point of the set, Pike's voice stands front and centre, cutting through the dense gusts of sonic wind. The strength of his vocals make it hard to ever imagine an instrumental incarnation of this band, though their 2008 release O Soundtrack My Heart was exactly that and, strangely, no less powerful for the omission. Technical difficulties (really, from an audience perspective the show sounds amazing; for mine, they give the sound guy a bit of an unnecessary hard time) force a few stoppages but actually draw a bit of banter from a band that is often tepid with regard to audience engagement. We're drawn through a brace of new numbers and the common thread is density of sound. Lawrence Pike's drumming is as enigmatic and mathematic as ever as brother Richard switches from high-strapped laser gun guitar, bass and keys and perpetual noodler Dave Miller tweaks and warps. Standout tunes through the back-end include Church With No Magic, the Sophia Brous accompanied Vertigo, the almost-rapped vocal lines of Casual Success and the instrumental mentalness of O Soundtrack My Heart. They save Window for a kind of token 'encore' and apologise profusely for their sloppy set as the 80(odd)% male audience wails for more.

Too dancey for the rock crowd, too convoluted for the dance crowd and too pop for the math-rock nerds, PVT are nothing if not themselves, and do nothing if not remain true to their own sonic directives and style. The combination of their purity of spirit and the deluxe environment that the sadly-soon-to-close Phoenix Public House allows will make this night pretty tough to top as a standout local live performance of the year.