Music Review: Electric Guest – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne

Its winter in Melbourne – cold, dark, trying to escape the icy Antarctic breeze, and searching for warmth in any form it wishes to materialise. On Wednesday evening we ventured out into the night, watching our breath escape into the inner city pollution, and headed to what has become my favourite venue in Melbourne – Northcote Social Club. I was intrigued by what to expect from the gig.

I’d first heard of the bandwhile listening to Radio 6 doing something menial like folding towels and heard Maconie tell the wonderful story of how the band was christened Electric Guest. The description of their sound was given as the resurrection of the Age of Aquarius – my ears tingled in anticipation.

Electric Guest

I was pleased to see the bill on the door read ‘Sold Out’ and as we made ourselves comfortable standing as close as possible to the intimate, lowset stage I scanned the crowd to get a feel for how the US kids would go down so far from home and so new to the scene.

Breaking the ice with ‘The Bait’ – a pink sherbet pop song with a sexy middle kick – the crowd (what a wonderful bunch) were smiling from ear-to-ear, singing to the lyrics, and most importantly, DANCING.

They went straight into the next two tracks ‘Under the Gun’ and ‘Waves’, both synth-tastic, high tempo songs that drip with summer nostalgia. Think carnivals and neon and road trips. One of my favourites off their debut album Mondo and a highlight of the gig was Awake. It has that Aquarius vibe that Maconie expressed with hints of Jefferson Airplane and a playful bass line that makes you dance involuntarily.

Second to last was ‘This Head I Hold’ with subliminal lyrics‘sit back, don’t think, get high, take drink, don’t feel, just go-getting the crowd to happily obey. It’s also a track that is testament to the band’s ability to make everyone in the room dance, even the gentleman next to me who was knocking on 50 was making some interesting shapes with his hands. You can really hear the influence of mentor Gnarls Barkley echo through this song and it marries well with the band’s own style and sound.

I have to say a few words on Asa, the frontman, lyricist, and complete entertainer of Electric Guest. Watching him is fascinating. Despite his Prince-like stature he is dominating on stage and there is an almost visual ricocheting of energy between him and the crowd. Speaking with Asa after the gig, he greets me with a hug and apologises for his still sweat-drenched t-shirt.

It’s not surprising what with all his fast and fancy footwork and dynamism on stage. He’s just been speaking to some very excited and thankful fans and doing the rounds with a well-used
Sharpie before he gets a chance to speak to me.

He’s clearly had a great time tonight and exclaims at how brilliant the audience had been in comparison to the cooler-than-school crowd that they had just come away from in Sydney (tut tut).

For him, it’s the small venues that really get him and the band gunned up. He’s incredibly modest and tells me that it’s been an overwhelming experience throughout the tour showcasing Mondo. The album which has been a 5 year writing activity and a long awaited release has been produced by none other than Dangermouse.

Some have accused the album of being overproduced and Asa’s voice to have been warped by filters and editing (cough, cough Pitchfork). Truly unfounded when you’re listening live and are rapt by the resonance of his pitch and crafty falsettos.

Put this album on your summer holiday playlist, put a date in your diary to see them play – my recommendation would be their gig at La Cigale in Paris – and eagerly await the next album.

Set List:
The Bait
Under the Gun
American Daydream
This Head I Hold