sleepmakeswaves + Breaking Orbit + Teal @ Manning Bar, Sydney – 16 August 2014
It’s been just over three years since sleepmakeswaves last launched an album in Sydney and back then I remember all too well the heavens opening, drenching the city and its punters thoroughly, as we all crammed into Tone on Wentworth St (rest in peace) to see an up and coming post-rock outfit start themselves on a course around the world.
Things have progressed considerably for the quartet since then – for one thing, they have a new drummer in Tim Adderley (after William Smith departed shortly after that show to pursue a career in advertising). But weather-wise, it was the same as ever – Sydney is soaking tonight.
Arriving early, I caught the opening notes of Teal’s set. Playing to a good size crowd (Manning’s 700-cap room was perhaps half-full already), they entertained and enthralled the early audience with the vocal stylings of frontman Joe Surgey and their catchy, groove-laden alternative rock. Caught somewhere in a blend between Muse, Birds of Tokyo and Adrian Belew-era King Crimson (think ‘Matte Kudasai’), these guys put on a fantastic set that was appreciated by the crowd.
Having played main support throughout the tour, Breaking Orbit assembled their formidable physicality across the stage for a tight and powerful set of technical melodic progressive rock which went down well with their fans and no doubt some new conversions on the night. Taking cues from the rhythmic approach of today’s djent acts as much as 90s Tool, the band premiered a few new tracks, which bode well for their continued development. Despite the impressive musicianship of its members, I still feel Borbit haven’t yet realized their potential – when they do finally unleash the charisma and song-writing they are capable of, it’ll be a joy to behold.
After a short interchange, when the curtains opened to precede sleepmakeswaves’ entrance, the buzz in the now-packed room was palpable. The diversity of the crowd was a testament to the broad appeal of these four Sydney kids – everyone from bearded post-rockers, to Karnivool fans, to hip indie kids and stoner rock fans, as well as a smattering of older classic prog fans replete with Floyd t-shirts. Opening with Perfect Detonator, the class of these guys immediatelty sent the front half of the crowd into a moshing, jumping, dancing frenzy. The immediacy and uplifting joy present in the band’s new songs from ‘Love of Cartography’ had a reciprocal effect on the audience, with the energy and enthusiasm never waning. Even the sprawling 12-minute epic ‘A Gaze Blank and Pitiless as the Sun’ took on a new form tonight, proving to be a celebration of sorts.
The band were clearly reveling in the sheer volume of the response and treated the crowd to some kind words throughout. They got as good as they gave – who would’ve thought we’d ever see crowd-surfing at a post-rock show?
Ending on current buzz track ‘Something Like Avalanches’ it was almost inevitable there would be an encore and the band wasted little time in coming back on after the chanting started straight away. Wilson issued deserved thanks for the band’s tour manager & sound guy Brett Tollis & long-time manager Mike Solo before launching into the epic opening track from 2011’s …and so we destroyed everything – to you they are birds, to me they are voices in the forest.
Engulfing the Manning Bar in a wave of emotion, sleepmakeswaves rounded out the night in style and left a buzzing hometown crowd in raptures. It was hard not to be affected by the occasion. Amongst the crowd were a veritable who’s-who of Sydney’s prog and post-rock scene: members from Pirate, Solkyri, Dumbsaint, Captain Kickarse and the Awesomes, Shanghai and many more. Having covered the rise of this niche since Bird’s Robe started six years ago, it was almost unbelievable to be standing amongst a full room for a night of such music. Congratulations all – can’t wait to see what’s next.