Live Review: Sleepmakeswaves

10 October 2022 | 12:00 pm | Rod Whitfield

"It is virtually impossible to imagine instrumental rock music being any better than this."

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With live music bouncing back beautifully in Melbourne after its two-year pandemic-induced slumber, it’s no surprise, although still hugely gratifying, to see and be amongst a large Max Watts throng of music punters for such an eclectic, left-of-centre and non-mainstream lineup.

Sydney’s SEIMS are quite the enigma. Just a three-piece, two guitars, drums and no bass (at least initially), the core sound they project is that of quirky but powerful all-instrumental post-rock with a mathy edge. Their compositions are frantic and frenetic, although, like any forward-thinking band, they know when to pull things back and create atmospherics, they don’t blast you with wall-to-wall noise and feature creative, often odd-timed grooves and subtle use of backing tracks. Then, around two-thirds of the way into their set, the stage-left guitarist ditches the six-string, picks up a bass guitar and starts singing. Then, they hit us with a highly unexpected, rather chaotic Blur cover (Song 2) before closing out their 40-minute set with a real bang. It’s a live set that keeps you on your toes, keeps you guessing, and the vast majority of it works an absolute treat.

It’s also quite mystifying when a band like Melbourne’s Closure In Moscow is the most ‘mainstream’ act on the bill, as, in the broader scheme of things, mainstream they are definitely not. But it’s great to have them back onstage and doing what they do best. Like many bands, they’ve been (understandably) quiet for a while. 

What they are, is shitloads of fun whilst still managing to be musical as all hell. Their old-school proggish rock, the tightness of their playing, their rousing vocal harmonies and their spectacular show and stage presence wow the crowd and put a smile on our faces to the very last punter. And much kudos to frontman Christopher de Cinque who, despite hitting the stage in a set of colourfully patterned pyjamas and a Jamiroquai-inspired hat, still manages to rock like a beast and sing like an absolute champion.

Sleepmakeswaves. An aura surrounds this band’s name and presence now, an aura driven by the power and beauty of their transcendent instrumental post-rock and their scintillating live show. Also, having been on a covid-driven layoff (this tour in support of the trilogy of EPs the band released two years ago, These Are Not Your Dreams, was postponed multiple times), the band returns to the stage like a fish returning to water.

One thing that strikes one instantly about the sleepmakeswaves show is the sheer amount of movement and visual dynamism they inject into their show, especially by comparison with many bands of their ilk (who often stand there with dark frowns on their faces and staring at their shoes). This matches the perpetually-moving aural dynamics of their music, music that ebbs and flows like a rhythmic and melodic tide, music that fuses earth-shaking power with subtlety, nuance and layering.

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Tonight, they draw material from their entire illustrious back catalogue, including, of course, the latest multi-release, and they deliver it all with a gusto that is nothing less than exhilarating. The only disappointment is a missing The Edge Of Everything, which admittedly, at ten and a half minutes, is a little hard to slot into most sets.

It is virtually impossible to imagine instrumental rock music being any better than this. sleepmakeswaves, you’ve blown our minds tonight. Again.