Australian psych-rockers, Pond returned to North America for Coachella and have since kicked off their current tour across the country. Last Thursday, April 20, fans were treated to an intimate, sold-out show at The Echo. Making good use of their time between the festival's two weekends, the five piece looked a little worn but did not disappoint. Their set included favorites such as "Man It Feels Like Space Again," "Waiting Around For Grace" as well as tunes from their much-anticipated, seventh album, The Weather. To be released May 5, on the Marathon Artist label.
The opening act was pop-punk rocker Ezra Furman who delivered a rousing set filled with some of his best songs; "Lousy Connection, "Body Was Made" and "Teddy I'm Ready." Fitting of the times, he ended with what he called his protest song. He was totally engaging but the crowd didn't seem as enthused. There were there for the main event.
Pond may be made up of ex-Tame Impala bassist, Nick Allbrook and current keyboardist, Jay Watson as well as other Perth fraternity Shiny Joe Ryan and Jamie Terry but as a live band, they are truly in a league of their own. Since the departure of drummer, Cam Avery, they are joined on this tour by James Ireland.
They have grown from strength to strength, since their humble beginnings in 2008 as a collaboration between Allbrook, Ryan and Watson; while mate, Kevin Parker concentrated on his Tame Impala project. Parker still produces all their albums, but Pond now has it's own instantly recognizable flavor. Tame Impala tends to be inward-looking, an exploration on solitude. Pond on the other hand, have been extroverted in it's pursuits; relishing the camaraderie as they explored glam rock, harder 'man-rock' and meandering psychedelia, all with a larrikin twinkle.
Their breakthrough came with 2012's Beard, Wives, Denim and by 2015's Man It Feels Like Space Again, there was no denying their prowess.
Kicking off their set with new song "30000 Megatons," the lead single off The Weather, Allbrook's distinct, shrill vocals were like a siren's call. It warned us of the state of the world, that "30000 Megatons is just what we deserve." Thematically, their songwriting shows a maturity and with this album, tread into issues of xenophobia, consumerism and poke at the hornet's nest which is 'White Australia,' and its sense of privilege.
Huddled at the far left corner of the stage, Allbrook looked hemmed in and would later break out into the audience, and reach for the rafters. This is a band that thrives on space after all; one song in and their sprawling psychedelia already felt bigger than the stage could contain.
"Elvis' Flaming Star" with it's excitable retro-rock intro, shapeshifting into glam-rock quickly fired the room up. By "Waiting Around for Grace" from Man It Feels Like Space Again, there is no denying why we're such big fans of Pond. The band are a tight unit, proficient despite their revolving door of players, with an ability to jam out, but never zone out; leaving the audience behind.
Watson who gravitates between the keyboard and bass, is particularly mesmerizing on the latter. His bass-face belies an intensity and his mastery of multi-instruments hints at the sheer discipline of the band, despite that laid-back trait often pegged to bands from Down Under.
"Sweep Me Off My Feet" another new one, saw Allbrook relinquish the guitar and explore the space, taking him into the audience. The band go deeper, denser, jammier into the rockier heart of psychedelia, with a mammoth guitar solo midway. The light show accentuated the sense that throbbing concentric rings of bass vibrations were picking you up and taking you on the ride.
The move shifts a little with "Sitting Up On Our Crane" which sees Watson taking on the vocals. In the old days, Watson used to drum and sing this track but this tour he's been front and center, giving the vocals it's full attention. It's a welcome change and imbibes it with an unexpected depth .
An absolute highlight is "Paint Me Silver." Another new one, it will be everyone's jam by the summer, playing in car stereos, at backyard sessions and pool parties. Ryan's twangy guitar hooks, the synth-y leitmotif and dense bass that make that easy R&B vibe; plus Allbrook's falsettos rubbing up against Watson's deeper vocals in the refrain towards the end of the song; it overtakes the senses, and affords an enormous sense of well-being. It's a high that was hard to come down from.
The heavier instrumentation on the explosive "Giant Tortoise," meant we didn't have to. "Man It Feels Like Space Again" followed and was an exercise in the art of jamming. It felt like the bass went deeper, while the spacier elements on synth and guitar soared higher, and when they converged, it was all-consuming for the audience.
After the encore, Allbrook did his best Bowie impression for the evening and brought the night to a close with old favorite "You Broke My Cool."
“Elvis’ Flaming Star”
“Waiting Around For Grace”
“Million Head Collide”
"Sweep Me Off My Feet”
“Don’t Look At The Sun Or You'll Go Blind”
“Sitting Up On Our Crane”
“Paint Me Silver”
“Man It Feels Like Space Again”
“Broke My Cool”
POND North American Tour Dates:
April 28 - Seattle, WA - Neumos
April 29 - Vancouver, BC - Biltmore Cabaret
May 2 - St. Paul, MN - Turf Club
May 3 - Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle
May 5 - Toronto, ON - Mod Club Theatre
May 7 - Cambridge, MA- The Sinclair (Grab tickets here)
May 9 - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg (Grab tickets here)
May 10 - New York, NY- Bowery Ballroom
May 11 - Philadelphia, PA- Johnny Brenda's
May 12 - Washington, DC - Black Cat