The slower spacier side of Pond was a rare greeting.
Six albums in, Perth band Pond are the latest psychedelic rock outfit to gain significant commercial and critical acclaim alongside Tame Impala and Melody’s Echo Chamber. Linking each project is Tame Impala frontman, Kevin Parker who helped produce Ponds new album ‘Man it Feels Like Space Again’, along with previous albums ‘Hobo Rocket’ and ‘Beard, Wives, Denim’. NME named Pond ‘The Hottest New Band In The World’ in the Hot List issue back in May 2012, despite the fact they had released three albums before their most popular record ‘Beard, Wives, Denim’. This year the band are not only playing at Lowland, but also making an appearance at Bestival. With the background they have, you would expect the mavericks to be able to pull a real show from all the work they’ve put in to get to this stage. But first we have support act Younghusband preceding the highly anticipated performance.
Younghusband were the definitely the right fit for The Fleece, perhaps too right. You can admit that their dulcet tones appeal on songs like ‘Running Water’, and ‘Comets Crossed’ nods to the grinding grunge twinkle of Soundgarden. There is a moody brooding simplicity about them that perfectly encapsulates slow-burn teen angst. But you just can’t shake the fact that the London band are all too typical – denim and leather clad, and more than a few songs cooing sickly sweet “ahh-ahhs”. But altogether it was a good start to ease you into Pond who hit the stage half an hour later.
After hearing the bands newest effort ‘Man It Feels Like Space Again’ I envisioned a joyous experience, an adrenaline filled night of fist pumping, flailing arms, and the quality layered sound that they do so well. Opening with ‘Waiting Around For Grace’ it didn’t come through too well. The tantalising textures to the track from ‘Man It Feels Like Space Again’ were stripped away and replaced by raucous noise. Having been to The Fleece before to see Dizraeli and the Small Gods, I knew it wasn’t the venue as I can safely call that experience one of my favourite gigs. So I let it pass, and on came ‘Elvis’ Flaming Star’ which to my relief sounded an awful lot better but mainly due to the fact it is what it is, fast paced psych stormer that leaps around like a fish out the water – or even Pond. The slower spacier side of Pond in this song was a welcome and rare greeting which never came back during the gig.
Of course Pond are a rock band, yet their studio album compared to the live experience didn’t quite add up. Even their breakthrough single ‘You Broke My Cool’ sounded less heartfelt rockers ballad and more a broken croon. A rather interesting choice of cover was Brian Eno’s ‘Baby’s On Fire’ which frontman Nick Allman pulled off, and Pond put their heads down to. It felt like more effort was made here to a song that wasn’t by them, compared to a lot of the gig which seemed to be played at maximum volume to satisfy the audience. Yet during ‘Giant Tortoise’ I could see a third of the audience at the front moving and shaking, while the other two- thirds were looking on blankly. My thoughts were echoed by others who muttered “it doesn’t sound like it normally does”, or just stopped to chat, check their phones, head to the bar.
Sure a gig isn’t always going to sound exactly like the studio output, but they’re at least meant to make an attempt at it. Pond are a brilliant band that have a good six albums of psychedelic pop and dreamy rock. And they also have many great things ahead this year, but tonight they were tadpoles in a pond rather than the graceful and powerful Koi carp.
Check out ‘Elvis’ Flaming Star’ right here: