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Live Review: Tom Vek, Kindness, Jonathan Boulet - The Hi-Fi

29 May 2012 | 6:25 pm | Jaye Weatherburn

An ear-damaging symphony of bluster and swagger.

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A deafening explosion of guitar noise smashes into the crowd, heralding the arrival of Jonathan Boulet and five-piece band. Several people laugh at themselves after nearly jumping out of their skins. The drummer and percussionist pounding in sync and the four-part vocals is less of a warm-up band and more of a wake-the-hell-up! band; four boys yelling with passionate rock energy. 321 Ready Or Not is a quieter moment, but it's mostly just loud with the likes of Trounce and This Song Is Called Ragged. Elements of thrash metal emerge with screeching guitars and guttural throat-screams from Boulet. The drums are tribal in intensity, yet despite the pounding rhythms the crowd seems stuck in polite nod-bop mode. Boulet puts in an energetic performance but the music does not leap off the stage to infect or sway the crowd. The joyous swirling tones of A Community Service Announcement to finish could not be further away from the smack-in-the-face opening.

Kindness (aka Adam Bainbridge) is up next. The six-piece band play the funky riff of Cyan before we see Bainbridge. With perfect timing, he saunters nonchalantly to the mic for his first lyrics. He dances like a lanky, newborn colt and spills his drink early. He lies down to cover The Replacements' song Swinging Party then informs the audience that he just lay in the spilled drink. Bainbridge should be oozing hipster cool, but he seems to have left it in the puddle on the floor. Despite the soul funk erupting onstage, there is minimal dancing in the crowd. Bombastic starts with Bainbridge singing a cappella with two female backing singers, while a lot of the audience talk noisily over it. Gee Up sees Bainbridge walk into the crowd taking photos and engaging with front-row punters. Overall this is a performance that would be better as background at a skinny-jean dance party for someone's 30th.

Tom Vek arrives and his three-piece launch into the funk of C-C (You Set The Fire In Me). A devilish red light suffuses the stage. There's not much small talk, a simple “hey!” after the second song Someone Loves You is a rare concession as the majority of songs segue into one another. Vek gestures expressively with his hands and a hardcore few in the front row copy him, most notable being a scraggly-haired, bleach-blonde surfer boy who screams the words back at the stage, complete with interpretive-dance hand movements. The laconic, detached delivery of lyrics in World Of Doubt and We Do Nothing has the flavour of Californian band Cake, but it's too disengaged here. The rubbery bass intro of Nothing But Green Lights is funky but not enough mojo is bouncing out.

This Modular triple-headline show is an ear-damaging symphony of bluster and swagger. Each act struts and frets their hour upon the stage, but the memories do not remain.

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