Live Review: Snakehips At Villa, Perth, 21/7/16

London duo Snakehips are back in Australia for a run of headline sideshows, while also appearing on the jam-packed Splendour in the Grass bill in Byron Bay. Since first meeting and deciding to collaborate almost five years ago, the much hyped producers, James Carter and Oliver Lee, have gone from strength to strength as they have continued to gain new fans with their blend of bright pop melodies and dusty R&B beats. With their newly released single Cruel, featuring Zayn, currently climbing up the charts and receiving airplay all over the place, their rise is showing no signs of slowing down yet. Arriving at Villa Nightclub on a windy and rainy Thursday night in Perth, expectations were naturally high.

Young producer MXXWLL aka Maxwell Bidstrup kicked off the night with his trademark funk style setting the mood perfectly. With his long hair and beanie loosely perched on top of his head, the producer was a frantic ball of energy as he danced along with the crowd to each track that blared out from the speakers at either side of him. Citing artists such as D’Angelo, Kaytranada, and Prince as his influences, the Sydney-based producer first gained attention when he released his debut single 4U last year, which won praise from Snoop Dogg and, of course, Snakehips themselves. Describing his sound as “future funk” the rich, laid back grooves of 4U and HONNE remix Gone are the Days had the people who had arrived early enough to catch his set dancing along happily.

The crowd continued to steadily build throughout MXXWLL’s feelgood set and as it began to reach capacity, Snakehips hit the stage to a blacked-out venue and sporadic applause. Swirling synths, a deep bassline and rattling percussion that begged you to clap along to it then filled the room, and after the anticipation had been cranked up high enough, Forever released everyone into a wild frenzy. The funky guitar and warm bass line impressively sweeping up the entire room in an instant.

The duo began their career remixing tracks by the likes of the Weeknd and Banks, and it was clear from the outset that despite their own personal success they still love to do so, and a brutal Meek Mill remix of Monster was a particular highlight towards the beginning of the show. While that was then bravely followed up soon after with the breezy Days With You which coasted by like a lazy summer afternoon.

The band’s name flickered across the stage in playful bright blue light while two screens hung high above them and flipped and reversed their name at a dizzying rate. The visuals were in keeping with the show’s early momentum as Lee and Oliver eventually introduced themselves half way through their set. There was the odd fist bump and raised arm from Lee afterwards, while Carter’s focus was kept mainly on what he was playing.

Glasses were then all raised up towards the ceiling when the chest bursting bass of Dimelo was introduced into the mix. The Tory Lanez featuring track had the crowd playing along later too when the hook demanded “Put your hands up if you deserve it.”

The biggest cheer of the night though was reserved for when All My Friends was played towards the end. The distinctive opening of crooned hums and the old school R&B beat immediately piqued everyone’s interest in the room. It’s somewhat strange that a song which Lee described during an interview as being about having experienced “years of bad nights out” has come to soundtrack good night’s out for so many people over the last year. The Chance the Rapper and Tinashe featuring track has defied the odds and become a global hit even earning Snakehips an Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song and being certified platinum.

“We made the beat to the song last year and we really wanted Tinashe and Chance,” Lee recently told Official Charts. “We just sent them the song and they both said they liked it. We couldn’t believe that they’d even heard of us. I still can’t believe it all worked out actually. The whole thing is sort of ridiculous.”

Whether Lee or Carter can believe it all worked out or not, the song undoubtedly catapulted them into mainstream public attention. The results of which has seen them travel around playing world-renowned festivals such as Coachella and Glastonbury, while they’ve built their fan base. On the evidence of their set in Perth, it looks like this is only set to continue.

Image: The Fader