Seekae @ Howler

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Call me out of the loop, but I was initially surprised to hear that I would not be able to go to the first show of Seekae at Howler because of an already sold out status. Although Seekae fit quite snugly into the explosion of electronic-IDM music that is currently dominating the mainstream currently, they have been working on this kind of music for the last six years and in that time have collected a loyal fan-base. This group has only gotten bigger with the newer fans who have been jumping on the bandwagon with no knowledge of their history…such as this pleb right here; I only heard about them last year with the release of The Worry.

The band room is pretty goddamn empty when we arrive in time for the second support Lucianblomkamp. This is a right shame as this Melbourne buddy puts on a thoroughly interesting show. The first (very long) song of the set is an ambient electronic adventure which is at times oceanic and echoey while at other times spooky featuring the hauntingly affected violin which he plays live.

The second track picks up with tribal beats and soothing vocals which are reminiscent of Beams era Presets. The whole set is intricately layered with explorations of different sounds as well as use of extended melodies that can, at times, also sound I’lls-esque.

Rosebud Leach joins Lucian onstage for two tracks which seems to give him more time to focus  on the orchestration and effects while she handles the vocals. “You & Me” comes across well with the crowd, however a rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” loses its’ novelty appeal as the melodic pattern of the lyrics jars with the music behind it. Lucianblomkamp is definitely one to watch as he tightens up his live performance and sound, I just hope that he gets the fiddle out more.

The band room has filled up massively by the time Seekae takes to the stage, the seemingly endless movement back and forth of people causes disgruntlement amongst the less inebriated members of the crowd. Once “Boys” begins everyone seems relatively sedated by the stripped back ambient sounds with the alt-J like guitar sounds.

Seekae’s experience is apparent as this is one of the best electronic shows I have seen this year. Their music is a lot fuller, I believe, due to the looping of real instrument sounds that does stand out more than say the drum and bass loops used by Lucianblomkamp. In this way, they are able to retain interest throughout the crowd with their ambient instrumental material with the odd inclusion of tracks like “The Stars Below.”

Their remix of “Test And Recognise” late in the set makes the change in tempo as the songs get heavier and at times dancier aided by the amazing light show. I am interested by Alex Cameron’s vocals, his voice has a great range and depth which is just another element that Seekae does well. Maybe due to his slightly lower vocal register, Cameron’s vocal line in “Another” reminds me of Samuel T. Herring (of Future Islands) which is a fucking excellent thing.

I must say as I am conflicted between whether I would prefer Cameron on vocals or drums as when he moves onto the physical drum kit, the set steps up a notch. The drum sound is so punchy, showing that this band can really nail the mix of electronic elements and live instrumentation. “Gnor” is a highlight of the evening, despite the undertone of conversation of the old mates behind me who seemed more interested in talking about getting fucked up than getting lost in the jams. Even they listened for the encore which was another great instrumental highlighting a retro-synth sound which sounded like “a twisted Mario.” (quote courtesy of my mate, Quang Do)

This show was so good that it makes me think that I need a break from the electronic-indie pop scene as Seekae is just so much better than a large amount of what’s around right now. It seems a shame that the crowds at these gigs seem way more into the partying than the frankly great music that is on offer. Dishonorary mention to dick of the night who decided to have a yell and almost start a punch up in the middle of the set. Seekae deserves way better. Anyone lucky enough to have tickets can check them out this weekend at Splendour in the Grass on Friday, 24 July at the Tiny Dancer Stage. Just promise me you’ll actually listen?

THE BREAKDOWN:

Hometown: Sydney, Australia
Latest release: The Worry, September 2014
Sounds Like: A mix between Flume and alt-J
Say What? Despite the skill of Alex Cameron’s vocals, the first two Seekae albums were instrumental.

Stay classy, Rosa.

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