The Basics @ Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney (10/6/2010)
Icy winds and the frosty temperature heralding winter did little to deter the crowd that descended on Oxford Street to catch The Basics in the Sydney. The Melbourne trio Wally de Backer, Tim Heath and Kris Schroeder’s collective indie-rock love child was in fine form, oozing with the bubbly inclusivity and enthusiasm that have come to characterise their live performances.
The melodic guitar-pop and frank lyrics of Fergus Brown and Richie Cuthbert quickly warmed the hearts of punters trickling into the venue. But it was not long before the headliners arrived on stage in their trademark suits and wasted no time in delivering a sensorial feast to the gathered faithful and curious newcomers.
Opening with the foot-tapping new release Get Me Down, they worked the crowd into a frenzy before dropping somewhat teasingly into the considerably more subdued Fear of Failure and dreamy Home Again from their 2009 LP Keep Your Friends Close. From there they took the set a notch lower again with the inherently morbid but infectiously funky single The Executioner before kicking it back up a notch with I Could be Happy.
There is little doubt that having talent like Wally de Backer (a.k.a. Gotye) on vocals and drums is a recipe for aural bliss and this was confirmed as the band followed through with Wait for You – the lead track off their latest EP that any Gotye admirers will find hard to resist. De Backer’s passionate vocals and thundering drumming were so great, in fact, that at times he seemed to overshadow his fellow band members, despite being positioned at the back of the stage.
However, as the set progressed it soon became clear how Schroeder and Heath are absolutely integral to cementing the band’s unique sound. Whether it was trading vocals with de Backer or procuring inter-track chit-chat reminiscent of standup comedy, Schroeder held his own as the band’s on-stage guitarist slash PR manager for the evening.The apparently softly-spoken guitarist Tim Heath provided an unexpected, soulful interpretation of the vocals from Richard Berry’s Have Love, Will Travel. As the evening drew to a close the boys provided a jazzy rendition of Happy Birthday to You before closing with a fiery cover of the iconic Roxanne.
When the lights came up and the men took their final bows, there was an air of contentment and satisfaction brimming over the crowd with flushed cheeks, sore feet and hoarse voices abundant.
The Basics demonstrated that while there are scores of bands riding the success of the current indie-pop-rock wave obsession, fewer are able to bring to the stage a combination of humour, energy and quirky charm as inviting as theirs. Once again they have showcased their ability to bend conventions and breathe life into a fresh sound that spans genres and defies classification. What a pleasure it has been to share a glimpse into their eccentric, experimental world.