You won’t ever spend your Tuesday night in any better company than a bunch of Perth musicians. Headliners Pond and supports Methyl Ethel are two of the trailblazers in the rising Aussie psych-pop scene that spawned fellow friends (and bandmates) Tame Impala; it comes as no surprise that every other person crammed inside tonight’s sold-out Gorilla looks like Kevin Parker. When 2015’s Man It Feels Like Space Again is in your top ten favourite albums of all time, it’s slightly daunting to catch Pond live for fear of them not living up to expectation. Fortunately, tonight, there’s absolutely no need to worry.
It’s an immediate success for Methyl Ethel, who kick off with the choppy riffs of ‘No. 28’ from sophomore release Everything is Forgotten. I was lucky enough to catch them back at their headline show at Deaf Institute earlier in the year – but tonight’s performance is on a whole other level. Singer-guitarist Jake Webb’s vocals are remarkably pitch-perfect; Thom Stewart’s infectiously heavy basslines on ‘Ubu’ and ‘L’Heure des Sorcières’ are stupidly catchy.
The quartet blast through their set to raucous cheers after every number, checking off ‘Weeds Through the Rind’ and ‘Rogues’ along the way. Methyl Ethel are Pond’s funkier, more pop-focused little brother; at times, it’s almost as if we’re transported to The Hacienda with their thumping drums and epileptic-inducing lightshow. It’s rare for a support band to receive such a warm reception, but as the four walk off to screams and applause, it’s pretty clear that they’ve won over the hearts of Manchester.
Cosmic visuals on the go, Pond immediately demand a powerful entrance with ‘30000 Megatons’ – the electro-laden opener of seventh and latest album The Weather. Frontman Nick Allbrook’s moves are enviable; his small frame glides around the stage with ease, gaffer taped shoes and baggy black top flowing along with his theatrical hand movements. Such a captivating stage presence is impossible to ignore.
There’s sick riffs all around tonight. ‘Waiting Around for Grace’ is arguably the quintet’s greatest tune – and when Jay Watson’s floor-vibrating bass kicks in, it’s as if Allbrook agrees, launching himself higher than the amps to chuck water over the mass of raised arms. Hobo Rocket’s ‘Whatever Happened To The Million Head Collide?’ and ‘Giant Tortoise’ follow suit, Cam Avery’s frenzied drumming highlighting Pond’s knack for penning the fucking best guitar riffs that honestly can’t compare to any other band.
“Thank you for subjecting yourself to his torture chamber – this is the hottest I’ve been in England!” Allbrook grins, tying the microphone around his neck before racing into ‘Elvis’ Flaming Star’. “I’m not hot because I went to TK Maxx and bought some new running shorts” Watson later adds to wolf-whistles, looking like the ultimate 70’s PE coach in his grey hot pants. ‘Fashionable’ is an understatement.
‘Sweep Me off My Feet’ is Watson’s time to shine, home to an infectiously funky synth melody that sees him walk over to one of two keyboards to convey his multi-instrumental skills. Allbrook wiggles around here and there, picking up his guitar last minute to give the impression that he’s only just decided to throw in some sick notes. As guitarist Shiny Joe Ryan strips off his t-shirt, it’s clear that Pond just simply love being onstage. It’s so refreshing to see a band enjoy their music so much; by creating such a palpable energy, you just want to jump up, join them and become part of the madness.
It’s a weed smokers paradise as it’s all took down a notch to the scent of cannabis via 2014’s ‘Sitting Up On Our Crane’, a clear fan favourite. “All I wanna do is get drunk and listen to…” Watson effortlessly sings, channelling his Gum vibes; the crowd bellow back “Dennis Wilson!” like it’s a stadium anthem. ‘Man It Feels Like Space Again’ is the perfect pre-encore track, it’s hallucinogenic melody and enrapturing guitars sounding ten times better than I ever expected them to be.
“We’ve been on tour for nine weeks and our brains are mush – but it’s so good to play to crowds like this” Watson thanks to screams of “we love you!” as the five return. ‘You Broke My Cool’ calls for madness, enticing a guy to dive off his mates shoulders; but it’s ‘The Weather’ that’s the ultimate highlight, a mellow set closer that proves Pond, leaders of the best gig I’ve been to this year, are unquestionably the greatest live band around.