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PVT @ Badlands gets 8/10

PVT @ Badlands
w/ Lower Spectrum, Erasers
Thursday, October 5, 2017


PVT have cemented themselves as one of Australia’s most inventive and critically acclaimed bands with 2017 album New Spirit, arguably their best work to date. The innovative and melodic sounds on the album have won them an army of new fans, whilst their existing fans remained faithful thanks to the album’s experimental noise roots.

PVT just finished up a small tour of Australia off the back of the album’s release and Perth’s Badlands was lucky enough to be on the bill.

What started out as a cold sleepy Thursday night at Badlands turned out to be a startling night of exploratory and experimental music that more than rewarded those who braved the October chill on a school night.

First up was local group Erasers. Like any good Thursday night Perth crowd, the punters were stand-offish, preferring to take it all in from the back of the room and the balcony, but this didn’t deter Erasers who fed off one another’s energy superbly and provided a perfectly honed set of genre-bending sounds.

Erasers were able to make even a large room like Badlands seem full, thanks in part to their reverberating, synthy goodness, but most notably thanks to singer Rebecca’s warm and deep vocals which proved impossible not to be drawn in by. Their ambient set with a small touch of rock’n’roll proved to be the perfect way to start a night which ultimately became a high-calibre showcase in experimental music. Erasers proved their musical chops as they glided seamlessly through a hypnotic set of rumbling lo-fi electronica, complete with the sounds of running water and wooden wind chimes.

By the time Lower Spectrum took the stage, the venue had begun till fill, though most fans still preferred to sit outside in the beer garden. For those who did venture in to watch former Perth-based musician Ned Buckley, who solely makes up Lower Spectrum, they were treated to an onslaught of lush, downbeat electronic and dance tunes. The arrangement of the songs and sounds were meticulous, constantly growing and shrinking and changing. Listening to them played out like a meditative experience unrestricted by time.

For just one man with a myriad of machines, midi controllers, laptops and triggers, the sound and energy he was able to muster was impressive. Lower Spectrum transported the crowd to a Berlin nightclub for 45 mins with a diverse set full of texture; sprinkles of varying brightness against a gothic, brooding backdrop. Utilising haunting and beautiful samples, deep bass, synth and down-tempo trance beats, it was a captivating and cerebral set, enough to win over any guitar-music fan.  Buckley is someone who knows his craft and lets the emotional candour of the songs do the talking and entertaining for him.

Next up was what the crowd were all eagerly anticipating. PVT took to the stage with no fuss; they quickly got to work, opening with new track A Feeling You Can Find which nicely warmed up the crowd and called them in from outdoors. It was the first time the stage and instruments were fully utilised for the night and that expansive feel carried through in their music, encompassing both the understated artistic ethos of Erasers and the supreme soundscapes of Lower Spectrum.

The band then went into some older songs which brought booming, rhythmic machine drumming, lead singer Richard Pike doing some intricate guitar work, as well as working some sweet dance moves. Richard’s vocals were tinkered with via Dave Miller’s midi controller (as opposed to pedals and delays) which added a feeling of eerie magic to the songs. Richard was in fine form for the show, utilising his powerful voice and unique stage presence – which is somewhere between unassuming wallflower and creative exhibitionist.

Once the band members were eased in, Richard took a moment to address the crowd, ordering them all to come in close. The crowd responded by immediately moving right up to the top of the stage and filling it out, and from here on in the energy was electric and PVT truly hit their stride.

Some especially good banter came as Richard suggested the sound technician “give us more! More of everything, give it to us”, which started some good friendly banter between the crowd and the band and gave the gig a really inclusive and intimate feel. They proved they haven’t lost their sarcastic Australian charm as Richard joked that his brother Laurence (drummer) should do a drum solo, to which Lawrence replied, “what do you think I have been doing for the last 45 minutes?”

The band delivered a good mixture of older tracks from Homosapien and O Soundtrack My Heart as well as brand newies from New Spirit. Crowd favourites included new songs Another Life, Kangaroo and Morning Mist, Rock Island Bend. These songs (and most others) had every person in the room mesmerised and bopping along thanks to their crunching, pulsating drums and electronics as well as Richard’s unorthodox vocal work and quirky stage presence.

It must be said the group did seem more organised for their newer tracks, with a few timing misses on some of their older ones, but they simply laughed it off between themselves and the audience were too engrossed to care.

Salt Lake Heart showed their music dexterity, it must be a hard song to play live due to its unusual use of space, disjointed musical and vocal parts and its unnatural flow, but the band pulled it off with ease.

After they finished the set, they were cheered back on stage and did an encore of O Sound Track My Heart, after which Richard walked abruptly off stage, to the confusion of Dave Miller and Lawrence Pike who were left with their instruments. Perhaps Richard realised he couldn’t top O Soundtrack My Heart and wanted to leave the night on a high note.

After the performance the band sold their merchandise themselves, chatting and laughing with the fans that made their way over. It was the perfect touch to an intimate and special gig.

When a band puts out an album like New Spirit, you have to wonder how the engineered and technically honed songs can transfer to a live show, but PVT did it superbly. They brought musical finesse with punk energy in equal measures. They were tight, well timed, entertaining, the hooks were infections and to top it all off the banter was A-class. The result was a live show that was hugely welcoming, transformative and enjoyable.


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