Gig Review: Art Vs Science @ The HiFi Bar, 27th August

“I’ve never seen so many people party so hard for the whole gig” – Dan Mac

On Friday night, Art Vs Science absolutely blew the roof off the HiFi in what was one of the most intense gigs I have ever been to. Before they took to the stage however, there were some top notch support acts to get the sold out crowd warmed up.

First up was Sydney band Jinja Safari, whose rise in Australian music has been meteoric, culminating in them opening the main stage at Splendour In The Grass. Having missed this performance due to a delayed flight, I was very excited to see them live for the first time.

They didn’t disappoint, either. The stage was set up to look like some kind of musical jungle, with vines doubling as mic leads. The band’s music perfectly fit the surreal forest atmosphere they had created as well: they played very addictive pop music infused with more exotic elements such as bongos and pan pipes.

Jinja Safari are much more than a gimmick band however, and they had the music to get the already sizeable crowd moving. Peter Pan, which saw a massive sitar take the lead instrumentation, was immaculate live, perfectly transferring that carefree adventure that is the studio track. Listening to it at the HiFi was like stepping into the Jinja Safari video clip.

The band had amazing energy on stage as well, regularly breaking into what they have dubbed ‘dirty dancing’, which saw them prance crazily around the stage, drawing cheers and similar acts of exuberance from the audience.

Forest Eyes, the band’s newest single, was wonderful live. I only recognised these two songs, but the tracks I didn’t recognise were just as enjoyable, and this is clearly a band with quite a bit of material under their belt. They have already developed a live show far beyond their age as a band, and they are going to be huge.

They were so much fun live, and this opening set made up (kind of) for missing them at Splendour. They’ve managed to develop an identity and a sound all of their own, which in the current age of the over-saturated music industry is a real achievement. I’m already looking forward to the next time I see them live, because this was a very impressive set indeed.

Having not seen the playing times of this gig beforehand, I had been very surprised that Jinja Safari were the first of the two opening acts. As they packed up their vine leads, one thing was certain: they had left the second support act with a lot to live up to. Thankfully, Western Australian boys Tim And Jean were well up to the task.

After a bit of a set up process, four guys took to the stage, armed with an assortment of instruments and two Macbooks. I have no idea which one was Tim, which one was Jean, and what the hell the other two were playing at, but as a collective they put on a great show.

It was immediately obvious why these guys had been chosen as a support act. Their electro pop music got the packed crowd moving and even got a bit of a mosh going at times, most notably whenever they started sounding uncannily like Passion Pit.

The two Macbooks were put to a lot of work, with much of the band’s sound coming from them, but live instruments also provided some depth, in particular frantic drumming and, at one point, even an acoustic guitar. I don’t think these guys have released an EP yet, but they definitely have enough material to do so, because they filled their 40 minutes timeslot with no problem whatsoever.

They finished with the excellent Come Around, which worked wonderfully live, and featured a stage invasion by Jinja Safari, playing an extremely odd collection of instruments and ugly dancing their way around the stage, much to the delight of the audience. As both acts departed, it was clear that the crowd appreciated the caliber of openers of this show, but there could be no doubt that the main attraction was still to come.

By this point the crowd was really starting to converge around the front of the stage. There was definitely a bit of an uncomfortable push going on, and once again I was in the familiar situation of being packed together with hundreds of people in the anticipation of what was to come.

The half hour wait was a bit painful at times, but thankfully soon Art Vs Science AKA Dan Sweat, Dan Mac, and Jim Finn took to the stage to thunderous applause and impressive lighting effects. Dan Sweat immediately warmed to the gig, standing on his drumkit and waving an amiable hello to the roaring crowd. It seems crazy to think that the first time I saw him was playing with the Philly Jays.

As soon as the resounding first notes of the show began the push to the front intensified, not helped at all by a few very drunk (and big) people stumbling around in an effort to get to the front. I have no idea what the first song was- in fact I can count the number of Art Vs Science songs I actually know on one hand- but what I do know is that when these three guys play music, you jump around like a crazy person. It’s just natural.

The stage setup was very cool, with Dan Mac and Jim set up on each side of the stage and Dan Sweat a bit further back on the drums in the center of the stage. It meant that no matter what was going on you could always see at least a couple of them, which was good, because in the insanity that followed I don’t remember ever being still enough during this gig to get a good look at the band as a whole.

It’s hard to describe the atmosphere. It was just frantic. It was one of the most intense gigs I have ever been to, and could even be compared to festivals with tens of thousands of people. Every single song was a constant mosh, jumping up and down crazily while trying to use as many limbs as possible to prevent bodily harm and reaching towards the stage with both hands. By the end of the first couple of songs I was already drenched in sweat, and the fun was only just beginning.

Friend In The Field was just awesome, and the story behind the song was cool as well. Dan Mac explained that the song was written about him getting lost at Falls Festival and wandering drunkenly around, being accepted without question into different groups of people. What the song was about didn’t matter to the audience however, as everyone bellowed the chorus along with the band, drowning out any sound coming from the stage and leaving only a chorus of disharmonised voices and the loud stamping of jumping feet.

The lighting effects were really superb as well. Laser-like lights reminiscent of- dare I say it- Muse even made an appearance at one point, stretching out over the crowd as everyone raised their hands in appreciation. A cover of Gay Bar was extremely unexpected by supremely cool- jumping along to the rocked up version of the track is not something I will forget anytime soon.

One of the biggest songs of the set was unquestionably newest single The Magic Fountain. This was simply mental, as attempts to have a good time with the song quickly became attempts to only receive minimal injures from the surrounding mass of people. It was still a hell of a lot of fun, and is one of those songs that is just made to be played live.

The band were clearly extremely appreciative of the crowd. “This is the fastest one of our shows has ever sold out, so I guess that makes you our biggest fans in Australia,” said Dan Mac, “which in turn makes us your biggest fans”. This is a band that appreciates where they have come from, and you really did get the sense that this was a special gig.

Dan Sweat was of course flawless on the drums, looking completely happy and content at all times, and changing with ease from intense to charmingly aloof. “We found him homeless on the side of the street, gave him a drum, and said hit this,” explained his namesake.

The highlight of the night came in the form of Parlez-Vous Français? Words cannot describe how fun it was. As soon as that driving synth and chant of “The Champs-Élysées is a busy street!” began, everybody raised the insanity to another level, and the song passed in a blur of jumping, screaming, and truly impressive guitar solos from Dan Mac. The scream of “Parlez-vous français?” was sung by every single person in the venue which created a truly deafening sound. By the time the song was over it had extended for a blissful 10 minutes, and it definitely seemed like both performers and audience members alike needed a chance to catch their breath.

We didn’t get it though, because Art Vs Science kept the hits coming. Flippers was absolutely intense as well, and it was a true credit to the energy and enthusiasm of everyone involved that even after the madness of the previous songs, the atmosphere of insanity was still at a fever pitch. Halfway through the song all of Tim And Jean and Jinja Safari joined the band on stage, once again playing a very odd assortment of instruments, including pan pipes (during a pretty heavy electro song). Having so many people on stage created a real party atmosphere, especially as the laser-like lights were turned on again. All the performers chose to sit down for a while, letting Dan Sweat’s carefree smile and effortless drumming take center stage for a while.

All good things must come to a end however, and Art Vs Science informed the crowd that the following song would be their last. “I’ve never seen so many people party so hard for the whole gig,” said Dan Mac, “this has been amazing, so thank you all so much”. And so they played a little song called Hollywood, which featured an epic call-and-repeat with the crowd, which inevitably led to us taking over lead vocals for much of the song. They departed the stage, leaving the crowd in a sweaty mess, and pausing just long enough to throw a couple of drumsticks excruciatingly close to me.

This was an intense whirlwind of a gig. It was utterly insane from start to finish, with not a single downer and not a single song that didn’t demand jumping as high as you possibly could constantly. In the aftermath I realised to my surprise that they guys had actually played for 90 minutes, a very decent set, even though they had probably only played a handful of songs.

It was a completely insane, intense, ridiculous gig. The awesomeness of the opening acts combined perfectly with the sheer energy of Art Vs Science to create a very memorable experience. I left the gig completely drenched in sweat, with aching feet, sore legs, a bruised arm, and a resounding ringing in my ears, but it just didn’t matter.

This is a band that knows how to put on one hell of a show, and it was great to see an audience that not only matched their energy but also pushed them on to even greater heights. For what it was, this was just about the perfect gig.

One Response to “Gig Review: Art Vs Science @ The HiFi Bar, 27th August”

  1. You pretty much sum up my experience at the Metro in Sydney – one hell of an intense gig. I wish Tim & Jean had an EP out I could enjoy on the iPhone but anyway an impressive bill of acts I look forward to seeing again live soon.

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