You would think I was having you on if I said that an indie rock posse from Perth took out Kendrick and Lorde for the most plays on Triple J this year. Well, Methyl Ethel have done just that, during a boast-worthy, jam-packed year. Us Aussie’s love a musical diet full of psychedelic rock, so it’s not surprising that their ten sold-out shows in May didn’t suppress our Methyl Ethel appetite. For a final hurrah, the band announced a second Australian tour for 2017 to share the textural beauty of their second LP ‘Everything Is Forgotten’ once more.
It may have been the first night of the festive calendar when Methyl Ethel took to the stage of a sold-out Manning Bar – but there were certainly no fancy bells or whistles with these boys. The three-piece band stayed true to their relaxed Perth roots with an assemblage and façade that was stripped back and dressed down.
Every skull tilted upward the second the room was saturated with the initial flickering synths of “Drink Wine”. The ambiguous but purely intriguing voice of frontman Jake Webb cast a euphoric spell over the crowd, with a blue backing light encapsulating the stage that blocked the bands faces out into silhouettes. Unlike a handful of other psychedelic rock groups, it was obvious that these chillers weren’t here to garner attention on themselves but to showcase the complexity and originality of their sound.
Although the show favoured their new LP, like the blissful, all too familiar pop tune “No.28”, classic 2015 cuts like “Rogues” and “Idée Fixe” shone through the set list with ease. Tracks from their first album provided a more relaxed interlude between their newer synth-heavy, pop-inspired tracks and were well received by fans that were there from the band’s more indie rock beginnings.
What was particularly impressive during their set, was that every track sounded so unique in its own right. From “Weeds Through the Rind” and its rolling, ’80s inspired keyboard soundscapes, to the slower paced, supernatural-like spectacle of Webb’s distorted falsetto in “Shadowboxing”, it was clear that no same chord was struck twice.
Expectedly, the troupe saved the crowd-favourites ‘til last. Webb’s vocals during “Twilight Driving” were almost completely drowned out by the enthusiastic, drunken chants of the crowd before the more sinister, keyboard-heavy “L’Heure des Sorcières” brought punters into a woozy groove. Drawing the Sydney leg of the tour to an end, the boys clocked off with the playful hit, “Ubu”, with the addition of pulsating hot pink and blue stage lighting to amp up the indie, summer vibe that little touch more.
Psych-rock may be in abundance on our shores these days, but Methyl Ethel have taken the genre, riled it up, and made it their own. If 2017 was a measure of the band’s success, 2018 will surely be hard to top.
Photos by Lars Roy.