Review: Youth Lagoon @ The Toff In Town, Melbourne
Youth Lagoon @ The Toff In Town, 15/02/12 Review: Giselle Nguyen
It was a display of young electronic talent last night as Youth Lagoon took to the stage of the sold out Toff to play his first ever show overseas.
Punters walked in to the sounds of young Sydneysider Oliver Tank, who has been making waves lately with his textured, dreamy electronic beats. Watching Tank perform live is mesmerising, as he throws himself fully into the moment, hair falling around his face as his eyes close in the passion of the words he sings. The 22-year-old multi-tasked with ease, whether he was gently hitting drum pads or accompanying himself on guitar. Tracks like “Last Night I Heard Everything In Slow Motion” and “Beautiful” had the audience enchanted, the air heavy with atmosphere as Tank tastefully auto-tuned his voice to create luscious soundscapes. He’s a talented musician with a bright future ahead, and tonight’s set was a shining testament to that fact, leaving the crowd transfixed and whooping for more.
Trevor Powers is another precocious 22-year-old who’s spent many hours holed up in his bedroom producing electronic music. It’s paid off for the Idaho native who, as Youth Lagoon, has captured the ears and imaginations of independent music lovers worldwide with his beautifully nostalgic debut album, The Year of Hibernation. Tonight’s gig was, he admitted, his first outside of the USA, where he still lives at home with his parents – and with a packed out Toff that saw audience members scrambling to get as close as they could up the front, it doesn’t look like he’s doing too badly at all.
With the addition of live guitar by sole touring buddy Logan Hyde, the tracks from The Year of Hibernation were further fleshed out, springing to life. While this did sometimes take away from the powerful intimacy and rawness felt on the recorded product, it was a joy to see Powers’ hands energetically flying over the keyboard as he lifted his mouth to the microphone and sang. His voice live was free of many of the effects applied to it on record, but there was a sense of purity in its imperfection that was impossibly endearing.
Opening with the bouncy “Cannons”, Powers offered up every song on the album live, applying little twists here and there that made the live experience stand apart from merely listening to the record. When he closed his eyes and sang, it was almost like we were being transported back to the bedroom in Boise, Idaho, where all of this began. The set went from boisterous electronic pop (“Posters”) to more downtrodden tracks like “17” – the audience’s collective breath was held as Powers slowly meandered through the song, offering perfect words of wisdom before the song picked up with added guitar and drum beats, which he flicked on himself throughout the show with a foot pedal.
Between songs, the awkward but affable musician chatted with the audience about wine and the shirt he was wearing, which he’d picked up from Melbourne’s Lost and Found. He joked throughout the night that it had a cool pattern but was barely breathable, and often tugged at it in mock despair.
When Powers and Hyde left the stage, the applause was so great that the pair returned. “I don’t usually like encores, but anything for Australia,” Powers quipped before playing one more song for the appreciative crowd. Despite a sound system that sometimes cranked the bass up too high and drowned out Powers’ singing, Youth Lagoon’s show was a charming one – a milestone for both audience and performer.