My Disco @ Manning Bar, Sydney (26/11/2010)

Taking the stage in front of a rather small early crowd, Laurenz PVT (PVT’s drummer) took the stage and began a set of solo drum pieces. Long regarded as one of Sydney’s best drummers through his work with PVT, Triosk and various other groups, he showed a staggering degree of technical skill. But that wasn’t why the set was so enjoyable – the real highlight was his knack for creating fantastic textures and rhythms with this skill.

Dead Farmers followed, taking the stage just a couple of days after returning from a China/Japan tour. A well-picked support, they brought some variety to the evening with a loud, loose burst of jammy garage rock. A new drummer seems to have reinvigorated the band, and they played with an infectious energy that made their raucous, guitar-heavy approach really enjoyable.

Having shed their post-hardcore influences in favour of more minimal ideas a long time ago, My Disco have evolved in small but important ways between their three albums. Tonight they’re launching their latest record Little Joy by playing it in full, and in typical My Disco fashion the music was at the forefront – there was no banter, no older songs and no encore. But that played to the set’s strength – the band’s muscular, no-frills sound is best experienced with a similar live approach, particularly with a band as locked-in as My Disco at their best.

The small evolutions in their sound are more pronounced in the live environment. Where Ben’s guitar work was often a sprawling, noisy beast lurking beneath Liam’s propulsive bass riffs, it’s now much more focused and itself drives the songs, forcing the bass into a more subtle approach. While Rohan’s drumming continues to be the heart of the band, taking on more flamboyant rhythms than before but maintaining its precision. The end result is a warmer, more inviting sound from a band that until now has forged ahead into increasingly stark territory.

Little Joy’s pacing also lends itself incredibly well to the live environment, with opening trio Closer, Young and Turn opening the show in rousing fashion, before the middle of the record takes things into uncharacteristically relaxed territory. But the highlights came towards the end of the set – With Age sounded enormous on stage, with the following Rivers providing the set’s climax. And while they stuck closely to the album’s sound, they made some subtle, but deft moves to heighten the live experience, with Rivers in particularly feeling much jammier and climactic than on record.

With the album performed in full and a surprisingly long set length (over one hour), the group acknowledged the audience and left the stage without fanfare and without encore. But none was required – the set was My Disco at their most cohesive and focused, and the set formed a cohesive whole.

Check out the photos from the gig: