REVIEW: THE BATS @ OAF, Sydney 23/04/10

written by Chris Familton

The Bats returned to Sydney for the 2nd time in two years, a treat for fans of their low key strum and jangle that has sees them ambling towards their thirtieth year with their reputation and continued creativity intact. This time they upgraded from the Hopetoun to the more club-like OAF and attracted a larger crowd as a result.

Sydney’s The Ghosts were up first and impressed with their sugar-rush power pop that was high on 60s mod and beat sounds yet tinged with a modern rock sound, particularly the soloing from the lead guitarist. With vocals in a higher register akin to Pete Shelley the melodies were overflowing and with some great drumming they set the scene for a wonderful evening of pop music.

Richard In Your Mind have been receiving a lot of plaudits recently for their Summertime EP and they impressed even more with their live show. On CD their disparate styles and shapeshifting is more noticeable but on stage they somehow managed to blend them together in a near seamless way. Sure there was the slacker hip hop and the Animal Collective tribal psych but you also got a much clearer handle on the songs that underpin the moods they create. A bunch of new songs and a new additional member (who was also handy at blowing up balloons) showed RIYM are evolving with ever increasing craft and momentum.

photo | NellyX via FasterLouder

The Bats have never been about showmanship or ‘performing’ for the audience. They serve the songs and present them in a very workmanlike manner. The songs were introduced regularly along with some dry quips about the weather, musical mistakes and humble thanks to the promoters Mistletone (who continue to do a stellar job), and the supporting bands.

The Bats were keen to show off their entire catalog from Made In Blue, the perennial North By North, Block of Wood and Boogey Man through to the most recent Guilty Office album. They also threw in a few new songs that sounded like instant Bats classics. They had the simple, insistent chord patterns of Robert Scott, the driving, solid rhythm section and Kaye Woodward’s sweet riffs and solos that are the equal of anything by Pixies in terms of their super-catchiness. When she got the chance to sing lead vocals the immediate question was why Woodward doesn’t do so more often. She doesn’t have a strong voice but rather a lilting sing-song quality that was enchanting and folk-like.

Watching the crowd it was clear that they were captivated by the band’s chugging songs. Heads were bouncing and permanent half smiles were everywhere. The audience were generally older than you average assemblage of OAF punters and though they were no doubt transported back to 80s indie (when indie was a different world) there didn’t seem to be an overtly nostalgic vibe to the show.

A big part of that is that The Bats have never broken up, they keep writing and playing gigs when they feel inspired to do so and that is probably why they generate a sense of comfort and calm via a musical template that has remained essentially the same but never seems to age or tire.

This review first appeared on FasterLouder

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