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Live Review: The Avalanches, Sampology

8 March 2018 | 12:14 pm | Stella Echentille

"The live performance misses a lot of key sounds and samples, which are integral to these tunes, that the crowd know and love."

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Brisbane-born DJ, producer and musician Sampology opens the night with ecstatic enthusiasm. His musical landscape of wildlife noises intertwined with funky beats and quirky samples creates a tropical mosaic of sound. While he seems to struggle slightly when using all of his equipment at once, occasionally fumbling with transitions from one song to the next, his resolve remains steadfast, continuing to enthusiastically rouse the crowd's excitement level. This is most evident when his visual projections malfunction, yet he still performs while troubleshooting the video footage at the same time.

The Avalanches boast a career spanning 21 years but have only released two albums, yet they're still able to maintain a cult following."We haven't been in Brisbane since the internet was created," says Tony Di Blasi and this is a telling statement addressing both the sporadic nature of their music and The Avalanches' tardiness in touring all of the Australian capitals with their 2016 album, Wildflower. Their Brisbane show, however, leaves something to be desired.

At 9.30pm, The Avalanches storm on stage, kicking off superbly with Because I'm Me, setting the mood perfectly for a night of dancing and frivolity. Technological issues soon become the theme of the night, however, as one of The Avalanches' rapper/vocalists, Spank Rock, is cut off by shrill sounds erupting through his microphone. This continues until the end of the song, leaving the crowd somewhat disheartened, especially after such a successful start. But, like Sampology, they prove unflappable and continue on in great form.

The band's stage presence is palpable, with drummer Paris Jeffree the beating heart and a much-appreciated addition to their live performance. Her relentless head-banging and killer drum skills create a wild energy on stage.

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Another of their lead vocalists, Eliza Wolfgramm, is also a stunner on stage. She controls the whole audience's focus, showcasing her talent in adapting her voice to suit the sounds of each sample that Robbie Chater and Tony Di Blasi have used over the years. These samples are iconic, but Wolfgramm executes them with precision and attitude, mirroring the original samples excellently.

The Avalanches know their crowd well, pumping out the crowd-pleasers like Radio, Subways and the most unanimously popular of them all, Frontier Psychiatrist. The band finishes their first set with If I Was A Folkstar an hour or so earlier than expected. It is not necessarily the most animated of songs to end on, but it is a favourite so is greatly appreciated nonetheless.

Their encore includes a rather unsatisfying rendition of The Noisy Eater and, of course, The Avalanches finish the night off with Since I Left You.

Our evening with The Avalanches is a pleasant and entertaining one. It's enjoyable, but we are left feeling somewhat unsatisfied. There's a spark missing from their performance that is hard to put a finger on, but could be blamed on diversions from the original versions of songs. The live performance misses a lot of key sounds and samples, which are integral to these tunes that the crowd know and love. By deviating too much from their original soundscape, The Avalanches don't necessarily provide the music that their audience come to hear. It isn't even necessarily the fact that they experiment with new sounds, it's just they play their own songs and they don't sound as good as their recorded counterparts. We leave feeling a bit deflated. In saying that, the band's energy and enthusiasm still shine through.