Back You are here: Home Reviews Live Review: Pond @ The Zoo, Brisbane 14.12.2013

Live Review: Pond @ The Zoo, Brisbane 14.12.2013


Fifteen Minutes prior to Pond’s set the audience are already chanting for them to take the stage, which is understandable as the two prior bands have well and truly prepared and amped up the audience for an explosive live set.

The suspense is killing me.

Pond are the lesser-known half of a small neo psychedelic movement in Perth, the other half being recent ARIA favourites Tame Impala. Indeed, Pond has shared three members with Tame Impala - Nick Albrook, Jay Watson and Cam Avery, with Tame Impala’s genius Kevin Parker actually playing most of the drums on Pond’s breakout album ‘Beards, Wives, Denim’. Whilst Tame Impala probably fall a little more into the pop psych category, Pond are hard and heavy – exactly the way rock n roll should be. As such, their shows have much more of a party vibe to them, which was immediate the second I stepped into The Zoo, even though the band would not play for a couple of hours. Pond take neo-pyschedelia to a different place than other bands; their music grabs you by the balls and doesn’t let go until the very end of the show. Whilst Pond’s sound is dynamic and layered, an ode to hard psych from the mid seventies, there is always a sense of playfulness that maintains their chilled vibe and prevents any of their material from feeling like stale rehashes of yesteryear.

Before Pond take the stage everybody who got to The Zoo early gets a nice treat. The opening act for the night, Peter Bibby, is a versatile dude – he can be found playing acoustic guitar by himself or with a full band, depending on the venue and the show he wants to perform. On Saturday he was joined by his full band, a near necessity to attend to the large venue and the surprisingly large crowd of people that turned up for Bibby. He starts off with slower and folkier Bob Dylan reminiscent tunes that use a fun and playful narrative style, later on fusing his light-hearted folky tunes into more rockability style songs, a great way to liven up the atmosphere in preparation for Pond. He almost reminds me a little bit of a less serious James Boyd with his raw style and honest lyrics. A fantastic and unexpected surprise!

Doctopus follow Peter Bibby, which is less exciting: a rather generic sounding alt-rock grunge band who at first seem like an odd choice to open for Pond.  However, after a few songs I soon realise the guys have a great dynamic on stage. There is long sweaty hair going everywhere - definitely making me feel like I am at a rock show. Whilst they start their set with an armful of hard and fast tunes, by the end they slow down the pace a little with grungy, downbeat rock anthems that lose me a bit.  Nevertheless, I was most entertained by the banter on stage: at one point the lead singer describes each band member’s role, declaring, “I’m like Ash Ketchum, he’s like that other cunt,” to a round of cheerful applause. They also talk about how they played over 60 gigs in Perth because, “it’s always the same bands,” with a tongue and cheek attitude that wins the audience’s affection (and makes Perth sound like a mirror of Brisbane’s music scene).

By the end Doctopus gear us up for Pond with another fast-paced number with some catchy guitar riffs that win me over a little more, announcing that, “Pond are about to bitch slap you in the face,” and then actually bitch-slapping one of the other band members in the face and kicking each other’s butts. To top off all the stage antics, the lead singer then dives into the audience. It’s a job well done because by the end nearly every single person crowded into The Zoo is head-pumping.

To appease the by now hypnotic chanting for Pond to take stage, the band start off their electric set off with a few fan favourites, ‘Millionhead’ and ‘Xanman’, before playing an old song, ‘Torn Asunder’ that verges between hard seventies rock and rockability, with a flute thrown in for good measure. By the time the band plays ‘Fantastic Explosion of Time’, one of Pond’s key crowd pleasers, the audience goes absolutely wild. I have to say, this was probably one of the best crowds I have ever encountered at a live show – everybody was completely into the band and their set, but nobody was getting rowdy. Only a band as cool as Pond could have fans this cool.

Nick ‘Paisley Adams’ Albrook, the band’s lead singer and main writer, dominates the stage like a King. Albrook does not look the typical rockstar, quite short in height and bearing trademark crooked teeth grins during the entire set, but then again neither did many great frontmen. He more than makes up for it with his larger than life attitude. After the chaos that was ‘Fantastic Explosion of Time’, the band slow it down with the song ‘Giant Tortoise’ off their new album ‘Hobo Rocket’ - a hypotonic heavy psych number that nicely breaks up the pace. ‘Allergies’ is another fantastic number off their breakout album that starts off slow and melancholic, but by the end fuses into dreamy psychedelia. What is truly special about Pond is that although they are psychedelic, there is little reliance on effect to achieve this mood, as opposed to the more electronic-based psychedelia that is becoming increasingly popular. What you have is a more down to earth, hard and heavy formula of psych-rock – something I feel is becoming increasingly rare in the current market.

At the end of the show the crowd are begging for me and so Pond return for an encore that almost upstages the rest of their show, with Doctopus and Peter Bibby joining Pond on stage, inevitable crowd surfing and Albrook being hauled on top of someone’s shoulders. Beautiful chaos is everywhere as screeching guitars seem to reverberate endlessly during the darker and heavier last song, ‘Midnight Mass’. As they leave the stage, the band offer the rock sign to the audience and it is well and truly reciprocated by their fans.

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