LIVE REVIEW: WOODEN SHJIPS @ OAF, SYDNEY (24/03/12)

written by Chris Familton

Newcomers DCM (Wolfmother’s Chris Ross and Daniel Stricker of the Midnight Juggernauts) set up their keyboards and effect units on the dancefloor in front of the stage and opened the evening with some glorious kraut-tinged electronica that was the perfect sonic calm before the storm to come. They showed a nice balance between pseudo ambient washes of sounds and some harder edged rhythms and synth tones that hinted at electronic/industrial influences like Cabaret Voltaire and other early 80s acts. The duo clearly know their boundaries and worked well within them, never letting a track outstay its welcome or lose its edge.

The Laurels only know one way forward and that is with volume and washes of heavenly guitars. They’ve been around a while yet they never disappoint. Tonight the mix softened their harsher edges but they still built up a head of shoegaze steam with their dual vocals weaving melodies amid the guitar carnage and Kate Wilson’s defiantly buoyant drumming. Black Cathedral was aired early, as were other tracks from last year’s EP and they yet again reminded the crowd why they are the best exponents of psych guitar rock in Sydney at the moment.

Wooden Shjips are a band that are in no rush to get anywhere in particular. From the moment they stepped on stage to their departure an hour later, they dragged the willing audience into their swirling vortex of heavy-lidded repetition, spiraling skyward guitar and that omnipresent motorik rhythm section.

Almost every song they played felt like it stretched on forever, burning a hole in your brain, deeper and deeper. Their magic lies in the simple form of that rock solid rhythm section that laid the foundation for Ripley Johnson to explore the sonic wilderness of his guitar and pedals. Between those two pillars stood keyboardist Nash Whalen, churning out endless organ chords that sound like The Clean and Spaceman 3 covering The Doors while on mushrooms. It almost seems redundant to mention the songs they played as it felt like one continuous piece of music in multiple parts. An early standout though was the frantic chug of Lazy Bones where the band changed gears from 33 to 45rpm and hit the open road. It was a momentary blip though as they settled back into their default tempo range and pulled the crowd back down with them.

As well as a hefty chunk of songs from last years West LP they also dove back further with tracks like Aquarian Time from Dos and left us at the end of their main set with a cover of Buddy by New Zealand’s Snapper, a perfect fit with the snarling, wired and droning psych rock of the original. Sounding much more muscular and defined than they do on their albums, Wooden Shjips were a brilliantly hypnotic experience that many of the audience were probably still re-living in their ears the following morning.

this review was first published on FasterLouder

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