Live Review: We Lost The Sea, mowgli, Wartime Sweethearts

26 August 2019 | 1:14 pm | Staff Writer

"[W]hy didn’t this show feel it left the mark that it was clearly intended to?"

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The hype around Sydney outfit We Lost The Sea has swelled significantly since the release of the band's tragic yet deafeningly beautiful Departure Songs LP in 2015. The prospect of hearing the band’s new, as yet unreleased record Triumph & Disaster in a live setting was enough to sell out Sydney’s Vanguard in just 24 hours. Bringing their own custom wine with them, the scene was set for a special night.

Solo act Wartime Sweethearts, aka Louise Nutting, kicked proceedings off with a collection of melodically beautiful, piano-led tunes that ranged from brooding to soulful, showcasing her impressive musical ideas.

Sydney-based post-hardcore outfit mowgli then ratcheted up the intensity of the evening with their atmospheric brand of hardcore. Showcasing some unreleased material alongside tracks off their self-titled EP from earlier this year, the group sounded as tight as ever, with standout track Great Satans drawing punters forward. Closing out with Mess and paying tribute to the headliners for supporting them, their 40 minutes was the perfect warm-up for what was to come.

With the venue packed but silent with expectation, We Lost The Sea took to the stage and, as is standard for the genre, began things calmly before agonisingly building layers to a huge explosion of sound.

Recently released single A Beautiful Collapse was an early highlight, with its constant driving and hypnotic drumming entrancing the crowd. Likewise, crowd favourite A Gallant Gentleman (the only showing of old material) and the crushing 15-minute march of Towers (which concluded the night) were both well received and beautifully executed, the latter featuring some truly gargantuan tempo changes.

A guest spot from Nutting on vocals, accompanied by a trumpeter, was memorable, as was the haunting, brooding walk-off track which scored punters' exits from the venue. So, with all these special guests and effects, why didn’t this show feel it left the mark that it was clearly intended to?

We Lost The Sea @ The Vanguard. Photo by James O'Connor. 

The simple fact is that things felt just a bit overcomplicated in the live setting. Whether the technical issues that the band were clearly having with their in-ear monitors (meaning members had to constantly signal to the sound desk, detracting from the performance), or some clunky interludes between songs (in particularly with setting up the vocals on stage, mid-set), there were a few blips that made the audience wonder if the band was going to get through everything ok, as opposed to letting the music speak for itself.

Still, the audience was glad to be be presented with new material ahead of time in such a beautiful venue, increasing excitement for the release of the new album. More touring around the release of Triumph & Disaster in November will no doubt up We Lost The Sea's live game – and help them do the music justice.