Australia seems to really fucking love The Internet. They’re here for the second time this year and following a standout set at Splendour in the Grass, have three sold out shows lined up in Melbourne.
We were lucky enough to find ourselves at the very first date; the perfect come down from a whirlwind Splendour trip. We stepped foot into a bustling 170 Russell only a couple of hours after touching down back in the state, and with the energy high and the lights dancing over the still drawn curtains, the excitement bubbling beneath the surface of the full house is palpable.
It isn’t until the first bars of Dontcha fill the room that the setup is revealed and frontwoman Syd Tha Kyd works the crowd into a frenzy immediately. As she dances onto the stage to join the band, the words THE INTERNET lighting up behind them in perfect symmetry. There are very few bands who can get away with wearing their own merch on stage without it coming across in poor taste; with both Syd and guitarist Steve Lacy (who treats us to some of the best solos throughout the night in his typically humble fashion) sporting the same black hoodies available over at the merch desk, we are reminded that this is one of them.
Perhaps it’s all down to how utterly magnetic they are as a band; cool but not so casual that they’re disengaged. They’re endless fun but professional, which proves important tonight as they experience a few technical difficulties by the way of microphone malfunctions and a few false starts throughout their set. Through it all, Syd harmonises with and works the crowd while Matt Martians holds the fort down.
We aren’t given any reprieve as the band moves into Get Away and Under Control to a raucous response. The room is shaking and we’re only three songs in as the band drop cuts from last year’s Grammy nominated album, Ego Death, the album we’re rumored to be getting a follow-up to very soon.
Having turned their set down a smooth, soulful path with Partners In Crime and Somthing’s Missing, Syd makes sure that the crowd is still there when she calls on some assistance for Just Saying/I Tried, requesting a display of anger and frustration. She gets it and as they start the song up, the crowd shouts “I don’t love you no more” and “you fucked up!” so loudly and repeatedly the band is almost drowned out. When it’s over, she prowls the stage, praising “that’s real anger there! Thank you!”
The set continues in this fashion: peaks and troughs, the high energy tracks balanced with slower, more soulful numbers. Not once does the band fail to be charmingly captivating: banter flowing back and forth from behind their instruments between them as well as with the audience members.
They move through For The World and Penthouse Cloud in a most commanding fashion before Special Affair fills the room, taking on a life entirely its own as the audience is lulled into a trance; swinging and swaying as the pungent scent of marijuana permeates the room. They slide into Girl after Syd makes the observation that “damn – all the songs are for the ladies”, which is of course met with a loud roar of appreciation before they slip into it.
There is only once instance that almost manages to spoil the entire night – a lone dudebro making a section towards the centre of the room feel very uncomfortable as he made his unwanted presence very much known. Still, shortly after he retreats following a few harsh words, the band up on stage remind us why we’re there and how completely captivating they are to watch as they see out the night with a handful of impressive solos during their final two songs.
Gabby demands the rest of our anger, seeing things out on a high as it spills over into The Garden. Tthe band retreats one by one, only to come back and hand out setlists to the fans hanging over the front of the stage barriers, keys player Jameel Bruner giving us one last flash of his practically infectious grin as he dances back off stage.
One of the most consistently enthralling live acts, if this first show is anything to go by, the crowds for the remaining two Melbourne dates are in for nothing short of a good time.