Dappled Cities @ Jive, Adelaide (03/09/09)
Disclaimer: This review makes no mention of Dappled Cities recent name change, due to it being a relatively uninteresting and unimportant discussion.
A packed out Jive is a wonderful place, when the balcony is open and the couches available, one knows they’re in the right place. On hearing that Dappled Cities had sold out the sucker, preparations needed changing and getting our dance on was gonna happen whether we liked it or not. Add a slurried mix of beers, a lack of true expert knowledge of a starting-to-thrive band and a less than shady bunch of plaintive indie rockers, one is most likely to experience a net result far greater than the sum of its parts.
After a short delay filled in with audience music of the mod-electro-pop variety, the stage was set for the Melbourne indie-smash trio Philadelphia Grand Jury. While their earnestness was respectable and their rough and tumbleness lightly attractive their greatest pull was the appearance that they were having a lovely time on stage. Three minute pop rock indie song followed one after each other and while at no point did it pull my attention for any elongated period of time they sufficed as a support act admirably, lifting the vibe just enough for the entry of the tougher, drudgier sounding main act later. Its worth making mention of the short break beatish crescendo that caught fire at the end giving a taste of the post rock virus that fills the live show of otherwise straight ahead indie music. It did go off.
Then Dappled arrived, with a vibe and a sound that quickly became a pleasant change up from their finnekely over-produced yet clean as an antique whistle recorded work. Where on the radio or your stereo Dappled mine the now popular work of eighties post-rock\dance pioneers, they sanded up their songs with a grit and a grunge that took the often perfect textural washes of synth present on all their work and took the counterpoint away, turning it into a drugged out, grunged-up wash of sound. In all terms it was a perfect translation, taking the softer, weaker, production elements out and creating a tone that is almost un- unenjoyable for any pissed, skinny jean melange. Even their image, barring the hair-cuts of the two main vocalists was dirtier, edgier, less vapid. Pretty much their sound had become much cooler. Their visage was well forwarded and their flexibility made apparent as they advertised their ‘children’s music’ between show and encore. They’re talented, there is no doubt about.
Their latest record Zounds was recorded and produced on Atlantic shores and shows a deep concentration and commitment to a vision which they are trying to make all their own. To be honest I was expecting studio geeks fostering pitch- perfect harmonies and well-placed counter melodies, not the wicked party that ensued. A party that resulted in a sacrificed memory of the night due to the beer flowing freely as the night lifted. They played a good mix of their still very much developing back-catalogue, pleasing the crowd and pleasing themselves at the same time. They’re a tight unit and were able to bring the bounce with tracks from their first full-length A Smile like Peach and Cream. These were all part of a steady gig length intensification that brought around other obivous numbers like the crowd favourite Vision Bell and ither wickedly reworked numbers like Fire Fire Fire and Holy Chord. The new album was well represented but not rammed down our throats. Well balanced, for sure
The encore was used perfectly to display their goofiness and laidbackness by starting with The Price, their latest single. Coming on draped in fairy lights and a darkened stage based on the ‘interesting’ video clip accompanying the song. It brought out the best of their pop melodies and gave those watching on the additional visual elements to keep the dancing going till the end of the night. They can seemingly be dapper, but they can also be ridiculous. That’s an attractive mix no matter who you are.
I’ll now see their recorded work in a different light, given that I’ve been exposed to the more attractive parts of their personalities. I like to dance, boogie even and they gave me more than the impetus I needed. They show-boated without being grating and god, they enjoyed it as much as we did. If you wanna get involved in all sorts-of-fun, these guys can cut the serious and pump the beats. Impressive.