It is one thing to sell out your first headline gig down under and it’s another to play to a room where you have the crowd’s full, phone-free attention. Canadian duo Majical Cloudz brought their Laneway 2016 set to the intimate Newtown Social Club for what proved to be a reflection on sombre emotions dispersed among witty one liners. The two donned their minimalist uniform (one in a white t-shirt, the other in a black t-shirt) and minimalist setup (only a synth board and mic on stage) for a show that was both soothing and confrontational.
But first, Sydney-based producer Anatole took on support duties with a mesmerising audiovisual set that had the whole room utterly focused, legs crossed and sitting down in silence. While kaleidoscopic visuals revolved behind him, [created by his friend Rory], Anatole was turning knobs and smiling as each layer built upon another in real time. His knack for subtly increasing tempo and playing with adored and familiar tracks, including “Say My Name” (eat your heart out, Cyril Hahn), made for a dynamic set that would shut down the argument of any purist who says that electronic production doesn’t move the heart strings.
As soon as Majical Cloudz came to the stage they received a huge cheer and their interaction with the audience was warm from the start. Singer-songwriter Devon Welsh maintained a melancholy blankness during his performance, but cracked jokes in between tracks. Meanwhile, producer Matthew Otto almost blended into the black curtains behind him as he made their records come to life. Their minor melodies and poetic lyrics felt naked in the tight, dark venue and unlike at a festival, we could hear Welsh’s every murmur (“Laneway was fun, but this is better.”)
When the stage is almost at eye level with the crowd, it is hard for a performer to cloud their intentions. It seems that the success of Majical Cloudz lies in their rawness (Welsh howls at one point) and all-too relatable lyrics (I’ll be honest/ I am afraid of love.) Although they showcased their new release Are You Alone?, the two finished their set with an old favourite, “Silver Rings”. In his awkward, yet endearing manner, Welsh thanked us for laughing and noted, “It would be good to play forever.”