"Run Away had the Cartel at their finest with more rootsy NZ dub-style beats suddenly punctuated by the high treble strings."
You can always count on Tijuana Cartel to sell out a show, but for those fortunate to come along early there was a powerhouse of a treat in store by the name of A Conscious Coup.
The Bali-based duo, made up Dadang Pranoto (vocals/guitar) and Adam Felton (drums/vocals) capture a vintage rockin' blues sound helped by Pranoto's vintage modelled Dobro resonator guitar and Felton's swampy, stompy drums which he plays fearlessly and tirelessly. Starting off with a slide guitar style, Pranoto let it rip, like a jamming Ben Harper or early John Butler — raw, real and talented — with clear vocal delivery. We are talking international hipster Seminyak style here, with a dash of Ubud's love-bead wearing music scene; heck, in his spare time Fenton jams with Nahko & Medicine For The People. Swapping over to a fingerpicking style with some psychedelic rock effects, the duo then went strong with vocal harmonies, sounding almost Brit-pop at times, particularly on their catchy We Are (Only Love). Mixing originals from their 2015 debut EP titled Perpetual with some covers such as Robert Johnson's Come On In My Kitchen and a blistering swamp-rock rendition of Depeche Mode's (and then later Johnny Cash) Personal Jesus, these guys were a solid opening act.
Looking like some bearded Jim Morrison figure in a long black coat, biker boots, beads and stockman's hat, Tijuana Cartel's frontman and flamenco/genre-bending guitarist extraordinaire Paul George heralded the band in, comfortable in the familiar surrounds of Mojo's, and off they went on a mystery journey of new stuff-old stuff, new members (including ex-Caravana Sun trumpeter Eamon Dilworth) and old (co-producer and keyboardist/guitarist Carey O'Sullivan, and Latin percussionist Daniel Gonzalez). With their new stuff from Psychedelicatessen sounding a 'smidgen undercooked' (like the bagels were reviewed to be at the album's namesake New York deli by a TripAdvisor user) — that is, less world fusion and lacking bouncy beats — it was no surprise only two new tracks, Endlessly and Offer Yourself, made it into the setlist. The sound became more layered and richer when the trumpet was added in like keyboard stabs to accompany O'Sullivan's synth-distorted beat build-up, notably on Letting It Go; and Run Away had the Cartel at their finest with more rootsy NZ dub-style beats suddenly punctuated by the high treble strings of George's mariachi-manic guitar playing, creating a levee that just had to burst — which it did, complete with stage prop bubbles.