Two girls dressed as elves looked on as a fountain of kids spilled out of the press pit and back into the general access area. On stage stood a half-man, half-panda with a guitar, flanked by two Wombats. Just another night at Festival Hall in Melbourne.
Wombats are marsupials indigenous to Australia, unlike The Wombats that are musicians indigenous to Liverpool. However, these creatures both share an affinity to the land down under. This is the second tour in less than six months for the indie rockers and a warm-up to their appearance at Future Music Festival in March 2012. Clearly, Australia has just as much love for them, as they managed to rapidly sell out venues across the country.
As the lights dimmed, the band walked on stage waving to the crowd before taking their positions. With not too many drinks between tours, there were expectedly many similarities between The Wombats’ performance at Festival Hall and their previous performance at The Palais in St Kilda. Just as they did at The Palais, the band kicked off the Melbourne leg of the ‘This Modern Glitch Tour’ with Our Perfect Disease, the song that also opens the album of the same name. For three men, The Wombats manage to create a lot of sound. The performance is tight and the trio comfortably deliver their songs as if it’s something they’ve been doing together their entire lives. As they go straight into Kill The Director, a song from their first record, the young crowd goes off. The audience, most of who would have been in their early teens when this album was released, recite every lyric verbatim.
The band continues with Girls/Fast Cars and Party In A Forest before performing the crowd-pleasing Jump Into The Fog. As the song begun, the stage filled with smoke (or fog, if you will) which Norwegian-born bassist, Tord Øverland-Knudsen, quite literally jumps into. This is not an action he keeps exclusive to this track. Øverland-Knudsen energetically spent an hour-and-a-half bouncing around the stage like a hyperactive puppy when not manning his post on backing vocals and keyboards.
The lyrics of Matthew Murphy, or Murph, as he is affectionately known, seem to be very autobiographical. His songs have a very singer-songwriter quality to them and appear to be based on moments and experiences from his life. As he explained last time, Techno Fan is all about the time an ex-girlfriend dragged him off to a rave. After consuming a few drinks, he found that he actually enjoyed the party. As the song started, green beams of laser shot out above the crowd, creating an amazing spectacle.
“We like being in Melbourne a great deal,” said drummer, Dan Haggis. “It’s a shame we can’t stay longer,” he continued. “Last time when we did stay longer, I landed up sleeping in my boxers in the hallway. Our bassist from Norway is going to introduce this next one.” After a brief moment of silence Øverland-Knudsen passionately counted in Backfire At The Disco. “En, to, tre, fire!” Towards the end of the set, Murph enquired, “Does anybody want some water? Was anybody here born in 1996?” The crowd erupted with excited cheers. He carried on, “Was anybody here a teenager in 1996? Was anybody here a goat in 1996? Was anybody a donkey? Is anybody still a donkey?” The band then began 1996, the song from which the album and tour title comes.
They played out with a few more songs, including fan favourite Moving To New York. Before performing Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves), Murph announced that this song would potentially be their last song, although they’d probably come back as it doesn’t take much to convince them. And so they did. As an eye on the screen behind them watched over the audience, the band performed Anti-D. After the second last song, Walking Disasters, Murph briefly left the stage to don a panda mask. The band ended off with their most popular song to date, Let’s Dance To Joy Division. As Murph stood on an amp behind Haggis, swarms of crowd surfers were steered towards the front of the hall and dispensed back into the crowd. After ninety minutes of indie-rock, the band once again left the stage to the epic theme song from Jurassic Park. With five months more to practice, their next shows in Australia promise to be incredible.