It’s been just over two years since the release of Glass Animals‘ debut album Zaba, but it feels as if barely any time has passed at all. In that time the Brits have become a favourite among Aussie audiences, and their tracks have organically grown into low-key hits rather than overnight sensations. As such, their sold out Sydney show accrued a dedicated, swelling crowd who were just as happy to dance to new songs as they were to chant along to old favourites.
There are a number of elements which collide to make Glass Animals so likeable. They make tropical-tinged music that instantly heats a room, their hooks are weird but catchable and frontman Dave Bayley brings a playfulness to the stage that’s impossible to react to with anything but pure joy.
Firing onto the stage with new track Life Itself off their forthcoming LP How To Be A Human Being, Glass Animals set an energy benchmark which rarely dipped throughout their hour-long set. Right now, the dreaded fear of the sophomore slump hangs over their heads, but it seems unlikely given that their trajectory has only been sped-up thanks to the deserved success of their latest lead single.
From the get-go, Bayley found it difficult to sit still, launching his body around the stage instead. He took pleasant indie hits and turned them into something epic, purely by the way he hit each chorus with another long-limbed dance move.
Bayley’s motions combined with the glossy percussion of the slinky, R&B-tinged cut Hazey, with Black Mambo achieving a similarly hypnotising result with its slow-pace but textured, woozy instrumentation.
Surprisingly, Glass Animals’ hallmark hit Gooey dropped relatively early in the set, but it gave the crowd a chance to flex their vocals as Bayley was out-volumed by the impressively loud audience. The singer later jumped off the stage and looked audience members in the eye while he told icky tales of peanut butter and other gooey things.
The few new songs plotted throughout Glass Animals’ set were not treated as a bar-break, as they so often are with bands on the edge of a new album. They’d obviously cherry-picked their more danceable jams and the crowd responded excitably. Sonically, they sounded a little more electronic and beefed-up. It’s not at all a reinvention though, as much as an effortless continuation of the sounds achieved on Zaba.
Sold-out Saturday night crowds are the best for this kind of gig, and by the time things got steamy with Toes, it was a party. Glass Animals returned for an encore with their cover of Kanye West’s Love Lockdown, and Bayley took to the middle of the crowd, dancing along with punters as if he was one of the gang. He pounced back to the stage for crowd favourite Pools, but by then they could’ve performed a television jingle and the adoring crowd would’ve fallen in love.
Glass Animals aren’t a band concerned about impressing high-brow critics, and they’re probably not going to, but their collection of songs so far is sonically tight and bursting with personality. All of their tracks sound better live than on record, and that’s because they inject them with an energy which just can’t be matches without a room full of people.
Once we get a hold of the band’s new album, they’ll surely return for a festival visit, which seems like their natural habitat. But still, on a chilly winter’s night, Glass Animals warmed everyone faster than a gas heater.
Gallery: Glass Animals – Metro Theatre, Sydney 09.07.16 / Photos: Ashley Mar