Australia - Full Moon 146 - 08/16/08
Pivot + Fabulous Diamonds
East Brunswick Club, Melbourne, 7.08.08
I am all for leaving a gig weak at the knees - but not literally weak at the knees from bass-induced pain. The East Brunswick Club may be a great Melbourne music venue with an excellent PA, but in the wrong hands, any sound system of this power has the potential to do some serious damage and ruin the music. This wasn't quite the unlistenable experience that sent me running from the room at the start of My Disco's set supporting Battles a few months ago, but it did make me realise that a great band like Pivot, whose music is so complex and beautiful, deserve better than crudely cranked bass frequencies in order to translate their sound effectively to a medium-sized venue like this.
I was already wincing at the bass-drum's thud during organ-and-drums duo Fabulous Diamonds' excellent set. Their repetitive, hypnotic sound, comprising Krautrock-inspired drum patterns, organ drones fed through wah and delay, and monotonous girl-boy vocals was totally transporting. While the tracks on their
debut CD 7 Songs are relatively short, the duo really stretch out live, transforming crude jams into epic, mesmerising journeys. Fantastic stuff.
Meanwhile, Pivot have just returned to Australian shores for this short tour to celebrate the long-awaited release of their new album O Soundtrack My Heart. However, their stint in Europe really seems to have taken it out of them and the band appear shellshocked and out of sorts. Combined with the shoddy sound, this left much of Pivot's set a little lacklustre. The power of their precise, melodic songs was largely swamped by the gargantuan bass frequencies, rendering the carefully constructed dynamics of their best moments impotent. While the booming sound tended to suit lurching single "In The Blood" and the crude
grind of "Didn't I Furious", pretty synth ballad "Fool In Rain" and the first half of "Epsilon" suffered.
Thankfully the set was more than rescued by a stunning rendition of "Sing, You Sinners", with transcendent vocal harmonies eclipsing the album version, and the monumental majesty of the album's title track. Plus, it's entertaining to watch Laurence Pike's drum virtuosity, Richard Pike tap-dancing on the pedal board,
firing off glitchy riffs, and Dave Miller grooving away like a post-rock Bez, one hand wielding a tambourine and the other tweaking sounds on his laptop.
Aside from weak knees, I was left with the realisation that O Soundtrack My Heart is a stunning accomplishment. I was also left wondering whether the band were struggling to recreate these amazing songs effectively in a live context, or that it was just the shit sound that left me feeling sadly underwhelmed.
Copyright © 2008 Tim Clarke