It’s been a minute or two since Adelaide fans have had an Art vs. Science show roll through town and to be brutally honest, I was a little worried about how it would fare when I arrived at The Gov on Friday night. KLP was a few minutes off emerging for her support set and the amount of people in the main room was still sparse. The punters who were dancing and enthusiastically giving the triple J host and performer their attention were giving their all, but as we edged towards 10pm/10:15pm, I had expected more people in the venue, especially considering the popularity the headliners have maintained here over the years.
I’ll get to the main set in a bit, but for now, let’s focus on KLP. She’s upped her game a lot since her national tour with Gold Fields last year. Though she’s still touring with the same set up (special word up to Gold Fields’ Ryan D’Sylva on percussion, taking the place of Tim Commandeur), KLP performs with more confidence than I remember from the last show. She works the small crowd as if she’s on a festival stage or in a crowded club and never loses her megawatt grin, which is impressive given there were one or two drunken male 20-somethings who repeatedly got perhaps too close a few times. I even felt uncomfortable.
Crowd banter and brief stories are interspersed with some hook-laden pop jams, KLP’s blend of house and R&B tones coming through strongly. The music is fun and made for this type of show, but with most people either seated off to the side or outside in the beer garden for the majority of her set, it felt like the sounds were projected strongly but petered out once they hit the back of The Gov’s doors opening out into the beer garden – there just weren’t enough people packed in to get the full brunt of it, which was a shame.
Although she mentions it once or twice through the set, KLP doesn’t make her show so adamantly about getting people to accept her as a songwriter as well as a DJ which, understandably, would be what most Aussies would recognise her for. Indeed, with her new single “Air” and what’s become a strong favourite in “Recover”, KLP shows that she’s got some big hitters up her sleeves that’d well position her as a producer/writer with more chops than some may credit her with. I’m interested to see how the rest of 2016 rolls out for her, I think there’s a whole of potential still to be tapped into.
So now we come to Art vs. Science. Last in Adelaide with the Create/Destroy EP, the boys played to a packed out Adelaide Unibar crowd that had Jim Finn swinging himself off the scaffolding by show’s end. On this occasion, it’s obvious that the double whammy of the Adelaide Fringe Festival and the Clipsal 500 had numbers down somewhat but by the time the band hit the stage, The Gov was full of fans who were as keen as the crowd at that Unibar show for some good times.
Having been at their Falls Festival set just before New Year’s, Art vs. Science’s new live show wasn’t too much of a surprise, though the amount of new material they’ve managed to pack into the current headline set is impressive. It holds the fans’ attention and there’s no moment I could highlight where there was a noticeable lull in energy as a result of a new song being whipped out for a test run. The set is well balanced with old and new songs and like any good puzzle, when assembled correctly, can result in one excellent and vibrant end product.
It’s no lie that we’ve been big supporters of Jim, Dan Mac and Dan Williams for some time now; their development as live act and writers since the Art vs. Science EP back in 2009 has been a cool journey to track. Off the Edge of the Earth… almost didn’t happen, as we learned from Dan Mac late last year but as we’ve seen at recent shows, the dynamic between the three is refreshed, exciting and raring to go – it’s like they’ve switched into a new gear for the first time in a long time with this new material. Can’t take that excitement away from ’em.
Of course, throwing “Magic Fountain”, “Parlez-vous Francais?” and “Hollywood” into the mix are well executed moves and the band knows it. It’s no lie that we’re in a music climate that now has artists dabbling in this style of music having to work harder to stand out; when Art vs. Science first broke, along with The Presets and other Sydney acts producing some electro/techno fused jams that were snapping up triple j play solidly, their approach was breaking the indie mould popular at the time. Now with the likes of Peking Duk, SAFIA, Paces, and a whole slew of other producers and bands I’m likely forgetting off the top of my head, it’s a different landscape for musicians wanting to explore this territory now.
Off the Edge of the Earth… saw Art vs. Science return with a refined, focused edge that was perhaps missing on their debut, The Experiment – you can hear it in the way “In This Together” and “Tired of Pretending” come out live; Dan Williams’ percussion still thumps hard beneath the pulsating synths and keys Dan Mac and Jim drive on either side, but the band is far more concise and tight as a performing unit than fans will have noticed before.
Even when Dan Mac whips out the guitar for some solos you can tell he loves sinking his teeth into, there’s a sharpness to his performance – he’s having fun, but in the delivery you can tell these moments are tailor-made to have crowd whipped up into a frenzy (which, they were, unsurprisingly). Classic moves that work each time.
If you’re a longtime fan of Art vs. Science and you’re heading along to see the boys on this tour, there’s plenty you’re going to enjoy about the new show they’re peddling. If you’re coming to them for the first time with this album, you’re catching them in a really good place as a band – enjoy.
ART VS SCIENCE TOUR DATES
March 9th | Barwon Club, Geelong
March 10th | Karova Lounge, Ballarat
March 11th | 170 Russell, Melbourne
March 12th | Metro Theatre, Sydney
March 16th | Transit Bar, Canberra
March 18th | The Spotted Cow, Toowoomba
March 19th | The Triffid, Brisbane