A journey into the depths of World Bar’s back room dance floor is usually greeted with thumping bass and the unmistakable odour of sweating bodies writhing to whatever vast array of dance music is being served. Tonight proved no different. The downstairs room at World Bar is something of a clubber’s wet dream. A compact dance floor lies between the DJ booth and the stage, cut off by huge speakers delivering fierce bass in the face of the punters crammed into the tiny space. The low ceiling hosts a colourful arrangement of fluorescent light tubes that are electronically triggered to coincide with the music. One bizarre inclusion for tonight’s show were lasers situated behind the dance floor that were invisible to anyone who was watching the band. Someone didn’t think that one through.
In the corner of the basement at the back of World Bar there is a stage. A low-rise stage lining one side of the famous dungeon dance floor. On this small stage stand the duo of Parachute Youth: Matt K Von and John Castro. Their simple live set-up consisted of laptop, keyboards and Mark Ronson-esque hexagonal electronic drum pads, which got pretty neglected as the show progressed; perhaps they were just for show and (not) tell.
Quickly pushing aside technical difficulties in the opening song, Parachute Youth had the crowd moving from the very start with their deep four-to-the-floor house dance rhythms, peaking into overdrive during Awake Now. Having only released two songs, the aforementioned Awake Now and Can’t Get Better Than This, Parachute Youth filled their 40-minute set with a stack of songs that were fresh to the ears of the punters. The standout was a funky, 70s-style track that revolved around a number of disco style keyboard solos, which had Johnny Castro’s fingers in a blur, flowing well over the top of a smooth beat. Another track [that I have very good reason to believe is] titled Runaway also caught my attention with its softer textures, a gentler electro pop sound that broke up the more house-influenced dance rhythms nicely.
Lead vocalist Jonny Castro sung with a vocal timbre that is soft and inviting, despite being heavily modified electronically. He draws similarity to Andrew VanWyngarden (MGMT) and Mark Foster (Foster The People) not in vocal quality but in the distinctly unique sound that he produces, which relies much on the way he pronounces words, as well as the all-important vocal distortion. It is this vocal element that distinctively defines their sound.
Spending much of the set roaming the stage with microphone in hand, Castro surprisingly spent much time huddled in the back corner of the stage, leaving his other half to pump up the crowd with spontaneous arm flails in between laptop fiddlings. The few times that he got up to the front of the stage and jumped around, the crowd followed his lead in a flurry of mistimed bounces, like he was implicitly instructing them to do so.
Parachute Youth closed with an extended version of Can’t Get Better Than This, and my word it was worth it to see the sheer joy on the faces of the people around me as every single person collectively lost their shit. The packed dance floor became a writhing, bouncing, fist pumping array of smiling kids who were overdosing on happiness singing ‘can’t get better than this’ at the top of their lungs. Arguably the most thrashed song on triple j this year, and with 1.7 million YouTube hits, its popularity is most certainly warranted [it’s been my weapon of choice for pre-night out dance music for ages]. The energy that it creates with that throbbing atmospheric synth laid over a simple four-to-the-floor beat is so infectious, it’s impossible not to lose your marbles to it live. The lyrics ‘I don’t wanna go away, I wish this happened every day’ couldn’t be more accurate for that moment.
Angry side note: If you’ve been dragged to a gig with your group of girlfriends, don’t stand 2 people from the front with your back to the band for Hendrix sake! You obstruct everyone’s view with your doomy gloomy look of disinterest, and frustrate the hell out of people who came to watch the band. Go to the bar and prey on some poor man for a drink, you walking mood kill.