The Avalanches @ Motion, Bristol, 20/06/2017

AvalanchesSimple Things never fail to get a great booking. Earlier this year they secured Todd Terje for a funky performance at Motion, and now they’ve only gone and bagged The Avalanches for their first ever live performance in Bristol. Their big comeback at last year's Field Day, after 17 long years, showed Londoners that The Avalanches haven’t lost it, and are still as weird and wonderful as ever, despite being a DJ set rather than full live band performance. Now it’s Bristol’s turn.

“Avalanche Rock” is first to hype up the crowd, then the usual sampling that begins “Because I’m Me" plays as the band enter the stage, in preparation for an electrifyingly jazzy bass drop. It’s enough to shake the Motion warehouse and vibrate your chest. The two vibrant, energised singers exaggerate the chaotic nature of it as they jump onto the stage. Even the keyboard player, Robbie Chater, jumps to every strike of the keys.

Embracing influences with covers and samples are what The Avalanches are all about, working existing material with their own musical talent and quirky styling. The Clash’s “Guns of Brixton” is covered next as the female vocalist wields a bat, swinging it around her as she struts across the stage, mirroring The Clash’s attitude. We hear samples and excerpts from The Who, Queens of the Stone Age, The Beatles and even Nina Simone in an eclectic mix of genre-defying sounds and styles.

By now, sweat levels are reaching an ugly high. A heatwave is never a good time for an indoor gig. “We need to take it down a notch” exclaims Chater, “I’m not sure I can take much more!

The sound system at Motion is exactly what The Avalanches warrant. The bass is hardly an element that resounds on their recorded material, but with a full live band and substantial sound system, the bass acts like the foundation their musical intertextuality is built upon. Jazz and classical elements, crossed with bouncy drumbeats and synths, work together to create that hectic explosion of noise.

But the apparent chaos is a carefully crafted affair. Watching Tony Di Blasi’s focus on both the drummer and Chater hints at the precision that goes into The Avalanches’ performance. Its certainly no easy feat to create the illusion of spontaneity and liberality, but they make it look easy.

We’ve loved sweating with you,” lies Chater. But it doesn’t end there, as the band leave the stage and run back on for the encore with just as much energy and gusto as when they first walked out, albeit looking slightly disheveled. A kazoo even gets thrown to a lucky crowd member in preparation for “The Noisy Eater”.

They close the show with “Since I Met You”, as spinning disco lights illuminate the dingy warehouse in a rare moment of calm. As a final goodbye, Robbie Chater leaves the crowd with a sentimental farewell: “I hope we’re back before 17 years, and if not, remember us fondly.” Bristol certainly will.


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