LIVE REVIEW: The Adults @ OAF, Sydney (01/09/11)

The Adults | photo by Chris Familton

written by Chris Familton

The Scientists of Modern Music is a fairly pretentious name at best but once you see/hear this Tasmanian duo it kind of makes sense. They don’t do anything by halves and delivered a strong set that was high on 80s electro pop anthems, a barrel of fun and an infectious stage presence. There were seemingly no boundaries to their healthy embrace of guilty pleasures. From Linn drum breaks and vocoder vocals to energy drink synth stabs and an unabashed party vibe they know how to create music for the dancefloor, Yes it was hard to keep a straight face but they somehow pulled it off, walking (or bopping) the fine line between cheese and day-glo synth pop.

The Adults are a somewhat more serious proposition with three highly successful New Zealand songwriters/front-people in Jon Toogood (Shihad), Shayne Carter (Straitjacket Fits/Dimmer) and Julia Deans (Fur Patrol). Essentially Toogood’s solo project he was prudent to gather a large group of collaborators for the album and then narrowed it down to Carter and Deans for the live show.

Sans drums (prerecorded tracks were used) they quickly showed their versatility as players, switching between guitar, bass and keyboards as tracks required. The overwhelming and binding theme of The Adults sound is dark and often brooding pop music. Many of the songs were built on droning guitar and synth lines allowing the trio to layer the vocals on top of rather than within the music. At times Toogood hasn’t strayed far from his Shihad songwriting, especially on a song like the surging One Million Ways. The best moments of their generous hour+ set were the uber catchy A Part Of Me with its New Order rhythmic approach and the brilliant single Nothing To Lose. Deans replicated the vocals of Ladi6 exceptionally well while Toogood relished his chance to lock down a two note krautrock bass groove. Carter was given the room to create some widescreen textures over the top of it all – twisting his body into all manner of shapes to squeeze the notes out.

The trio appeared to be having a blast together on stage, even the aloof Carter allowed a smile or two while Toogood was his usual effusive and grateful self – thanking the crowd, employing dance moves to rival Thom Yorke and showing that he is still passionately living, breathing and exploring music.

this review was first published in The Drum Media.

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