Pond, the Western Australian psychedelic project with an ever-changing line-up of talented aussies, hopped over to the nation’s capital and gave a stellar performance at the Rock and Roll Hotel. The relatively minimal lighting and low stage meant that the performance was certain to be an engaging experience. I had missed the opening act, Machete Western, but was told by several people that it was something that I would regret and that I would seldom see a grown man sporting a Cash-ian pompadour strip down to a shiny jock strap. Regardless, my main interest was to see Pond deliver their oddly aggressive ethereal sounds.
It had been a while since I last listened to them so I was somewhat anxious to hear what they were going to play. Evidently they started with “Waiting Around for Grace” and “Whatever Happened to the Million Head Collide?” off of Man it Feels Like Space Again and Hobo Rocket, respectively. The between-song moments were punctuated by Shiny Joe’s banter and Nick Allbrook’s adlibs, and it felt to me that these men with their (respective) zipped-up pure white ski coat and cavernous-blue-eyed gaze were here to deliver peace.
As the show progressed, new tracks were introduced from the band’s forthcoming project, as well as some tunes from their individual efforts. Upon absolutely killing a performance of “Giant Tortoise”, they broke out into a crunchy bass groove off a track I can’t remember for the life of me. What was indeed notable about the performance of this song, however, was the ever so slight shift of the bass as Allbrook hung from the low rafters bellowing the words “your love is faded”.
Beyond that point the night descended into chaos as they began to extend the songs by several lines for the sake of bold soloing that was generously fuzzed (yet somehow melodic). Songs like “Midnight Mass”, which normally ran a decent 6 minutes, broke my concept of time.
The descent into primal soloing created some bizarre amalgam of sound complemented by smoke as the band walked off one by one. I hadn’t been aware of what had happened until they obliged the crowd with an encore.
The experience was lovely. The show was tops.
Pictures by Mike Kim
Written by Karim Abdel-Wadood