Live Review: Palms at The Foundry, Brisbane

Stepping into The Foundry while Good Boy cut into their closing tracks, it was clear that there was already some fun being had within the venue’s narrow confines. Good Boy have been popping up just about everywhere in 2016; supporting Canada’s Homeshake, lending their talents to the multi-venue event that was Mountain Goat Valley Crawl and even landing a slot during the Brisbane leg of St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival. Judging by the audience reaction, the boys’ genre slipping slacker rock was well received. Concluding with all the chiller riffs and laid-back vibrations that could be expected, there’s little fault that could be found with these Brisbane newcomers.

Given the local acts don’t always draw the biggest audience, there was a large crowd on hand for Babaganouj. The four-piece have been kicking around for nearly 6 years now, but it seems like they’ve been hitting the Brisbane music scene with a frenzied intensity following their BIGSOUND set last year. By the time the opening licks of Too Late For Love were reverberating off of the walls, the group had filled the floor.

In contrast to the group’s effortlessly controlled posturing and near synchronised harmonies, the crowd is a chaotic throng of moving bodies. While Charles Sale undeniably acts a sort of anchor for the band, there’s some undeniable talent across the board. Ruby McGregor takes the lead for two songs before Harriette Pilbeam takes the vocals on Bluff. While the quartet might building a signature sound around the angsty lo-fi power pop analogous to acts like Best Coast, the Alvvays-tinged Bluff shows the group are equally adept at taking their sound in any number of directions.

The group’s lo-fi indie rock meets pop punk tracks seem purpose built for the occasion. Bouncy rhythms and sing-along chorus lines abound and the audience responds in kind. The fact that the three vocal talents are constantly weaving together tight harmonies and generally jumping between roles testifies to a well-honed live act; that or some kind of group telepathy. Even when factoring in instrumentals and drummer Richie’s contribution, it seems like all four members are locked into a single collective groove.

Coming off the release of their latest LP, Crazy Rack, Palms again graced the Brisbane stage.  As the Babaganouj crowd receded, there was a lingering feeling that night’s energy had peaked. With a small collection of expectant fans ambling around the stage, the group casually strode on beers in hand. Some cursory banter was followed by a thrashing bass riff. Early into their opening song it seemed that Palms wouldn’t be topping the borderline mania Babaganouj whipped up less than an hour before. But crashing riffs, throttling rhythms and Al Grigg’s toothy grin quickly turned things around. Despite their shambolic garage leanings, lurking behind their bubbly laid-back exterior is an intensity and loose focus which drives their summery material home. As if responding to the siren call of a sliding guitar riff and propulsive rhythm the crowd quickly swells.

“I kind of have a Brisbane obsession,” Grigg reveals. “All of the funniest people are from Brisbane or have lived in Brisbane all their life.” Trotting out back to back songs about the weather, it’s not long before the crowd gets cosy. A well-constructed mix of old and new, the set builds in intensity.

By third track Rainbows things really hit their mark. Reimagining the anthemic pop-punk number as an amped up live version gets people moving. Once again the room bursts into a sea of cascading sea of flailing limbs and bobbing heads. Admittedly, the rest is a bit of a blur.

Overall things gelled well. There was an undeniable feedback loop of positive energy running between the bands and their jumpy Brisbane audience. It’s easy to see that despite being in different places in terms of their musical trajectory, these three talented bands are all hitting their stride. Whether it was the pop-savvy finesse of Babaganouj, the adrenaline fuelled charm of Palms or the dazed out rock of Good Boy, there were few ebbs in the evening’s performances.

Read more: Party Bands Have Feelings Too – An Interview With Al Griggs From Palms