Milwaukee Banks & Flower Drums @ Shadow Electric

milwaukee banks

On a chilly Thursday night for my first review gig, like a nervous teenager, I turned up unfashionably early to the Shadow Electric.

Alone and during the awkward period between sets I headed straight to the bar. Pacified with pint in hand, I eagerly awaited the second support, Habits, who come highly recommended by art felicis’ own gig co-ordinator, Laura.

I am certainly not disappointed by this support, who bang out a killer set to an undeservedly small crowd. They have a winning mix of vocals; sometimes melodic and harmonised, sometimes jarring and edited with high tempo dance beats. It’s refreshing to see an entirely electronic act have such a bouncy energy onstage. Their matching hair glowing in the UV lights probably helped. It was the kind of set that almost made you forget that you were part of a slightly awkward crowd and only two drinks deep at quarter to eight on a Thursday. Check them out on their Bandcamp or better yet, see them live!

Taking to the stage amongst a growing crowd, Nussy begins what will become an underwhelming set. The music wasn’t unpleasant and the keyboardist definitely spiced up the competent, albeit garden-variety, backing band. Nussy herself seems to be punching above her weight in the vocal department and despite having a striking stage presence, was singing well out of her range; an unfortunate cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” did nothing to quell this realisation.

The barefooted Perth wonders, Flower Drums opened with my fav, “Bad Websites”. The delicate vocals by pixie looking front man, Leigh Craft eloquently match the dreamy synth vibe. Once I had recovered from my surprise that the vocals for this band were entirely male, I couldn’t help but draw sound parallels to early Cut Copy (even in the looks department as noted by LB).

milwaukee banks

The set flowed effortlessly between more dancey high moments as well as dreamy textual interludes, that judging by the skills of the musicians, were likely to be partly improvised. Triple J favourites “Don’t Wait” and “End II End” were definite mid set crowd pleasers. Interestingly, Flower Drums ended with an instrumental dance-inducing track, proving that they have more to offer then your usual dream-pop four piece. If you’ve any sense at all, you’ll keep an eye on their Facebook and see them live before you can’t afford their tickets.

As is much of the crowd, I’m pumped for the main attraction, Milwaukee Banks. I had dragged my sorry arse out of a tent at Golden Plains after two hours sleep to see them and spent the whole set juggling my tiredness and the urge to dance. Pleasing my sense of theatre, producer Adrian Rafter aka Edo starts on stage alone revving up the beats as rapper Dyl Thomas warms up side stage bouncing like a boxer. He jumps on stage to begin their unique brand of chilled electronic hip-hop with “Hazy” and “Purple & Green”. Sometimes a distorted deep voice, like the one Edo uses, can really give me the shits but the somewhat sweet rap of Thomas really compliments the dulcet tones. When he turns the distorter off mid-set to insist, “I do have a real voice”, the quiet voice that replaces it is surprising.

Not for a while have I seen a band have such an openly good time on stage. Despite band room having a shamefully average sized crowd, these Melbourne boys give it their all and convince a typically nonchalant northside crowd to move forward where a few fans are rewarded with generous amounts of fist bumps from Thomas. They ramp up the energy and get the dancing that they asked for with “Patty Mills”. A dynamic performance proves to the naysayers (not me mate, I’ve always been a believer) that Australia does indeed make great hip-hop. These boys exude a love of what they are doing with an unusual humbleness and copious crowd interaction. A late set nod to collaborators, Rat & Co with Monitor” gets the long time Melbourne partiers going.

In “Rose Water” Thomas sings ‘I don’t want to slow down’ and Milwaukee Banks shows no signs of doing so.

Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
Latest EP: Rose Water EP – June 2014
Sounds Like: If Earl Sweatshirt messed around with an effects pad on psychedelics.
Say What? Thomas is a graphic designer and Edo is a business analyst who used to work at a library… I work at a library, we’re pretty well related..

Stay Classy, Rosa

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