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Big fish, even bigger Pond

| Friday, November 2, 2018

Diane Park | The Observer

Last Thursday night, a sprightly earth fairy, a grizzly tree-like man, a gleaming extraterrestrial being and their babysitter took the stage at Thalia Hall in Chicago. Before the concert, I had no idea what any member of Pond looked like and would have never guessed that these individuals were the creative minds behind the Australian psychedelic rock band. After kicking off their tour earlier this year, Pond generated rippling whispers that they were back with new music and notoriously eccentric performances.

Nick Allbrook (frontman and earth fairy of Pond) danced around the stage with reckless abandon while “Shiny Joe” Ryan shredded on his guitar and rocked a big, mossy and tree-like coat. Jamie Terry sported an iridescent jacket that matched his spacey keyboard sounds, which added an electronic and futuristic layer to elevate each psychedelic rock song. Finally, in the opposite corner, Jay Watson was nonchalantly being a watchful musical genius, hitting the synths and wielding a bass guitar. One barely had any time to digest each member’s vibe before a wailing Nick Allbrook let out an impressive high kick into the air at the bridge of “30000 Megatons,” sending the audience into a mind-flooding sound bath. “Why wait, why wait?” Allbrook sang in the introductory song before swinging his guitar around to add a piercing riff to the accelerando of deep synths and bass kicks.

After a cheeky welcome, the band segued into their next song with playful chimes and tongue-in-cheek lyrics of “Sweep Me Off My Feet.” Allbrook began prancing around the stage, dotting his performance with glitzy gestures and flirtatious hip swings. The atmosphere was infectiously carefree, as no one could resist joining in on the fun and dancing, especially to my personal-favorite song of the night ­— “Fire in The Water.” Any question of this band’s ability to put on a show was dissipated as soon as Allbrook opened “Zen Automation” with a lulling flute solo. At this point, it was clear that nothing was going to stop Pond from having a good time, so the only thing to do was to hop along for the joyride.

The majority of the set was composed of songs from their most recent album, “The Weather,” but included tracks from older albums (with “crook titles,” as Allbrook said) like “Hobo Rocket.” Of course, the band also played their latest singles, “Sixteen Days” and “Burnt Out Star,” two relatively slower songs, though no less exciting, as Allbrook still jumped into the crowd and climbed up the venue’s balconies.

Pond is sometimes thought of as a side project for the more widely known Tame Impala. Understandably so, as both Tame Impala’s front man, Kevin Parker, and band member, Jay Watson, have played major parts in producing albums, writing songs and performing with Pond. This collaboration has risked some originality for the band, as critics have previously noted a lack of unique personality displayed in their music. Though after attending this concert, it’s hard to believe these critiques to be even remotely true. Despite heavy influences from Parker and Watson, Pond seizes ownership of their music through wildly imaginative lyrics and spirited delivery.

It’s easy to forget that music is a holistic experience when we often leave it on in the background while studying. Pond’s performance is one of my favorite experiences and serves as a reminder that being immersed in music can help us better understand and appreciate artistry that might not be immediately apparent. Given the band’s powerful musical team and acclaimed live performances, it is shocking that their monthly Spotify listeners fall short of 500,000. Truly, each member is a big fish swimming in what deserves to be an even bigger Pond.

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