Gig Reviews

Dappled Cities, Glass Towers and Panama – Oxford Arts Factory 31/05/12

On the eve before winter, not even drizzling rain or impending cold could affect the spring I had in my step. After only catching their last three songs when they supported Death Cab in February, and with the recent hype of their new single, I was definitely keen to see Dappled Cities live once more. I ventured down to Oxford Art Factory, where a small crowd and the smell of popcorn greeted me (yes, yes…popcorn). With my unfortunate track record for arriving late to gigs, particularly mid-week, I surprisingly got there with ample time to spare.

The first band on stage was Panama, four local lads whose upbeat sounds turned out to be quite a treat. With the exciting layering of catchy vocals, those popular nostalgic 80s riffs, and full, lifting percussion, Panama have instrumental multi-tasking down to a tee. Although the first half seemed a little flat and the vocal levels were too low, the driving rhythms and memorable keys kept the sound tight. By the end, everything settled with loads more energy, particularly their single Magic. The bright, pop tune had exciting bongos and soaring vocals, and was somehow reminiscent of summertime.

The second support were Glass Towers, an indie rock band who already have substantial touring history under their belt. Hailing from Byron Bay, I couldn’t help but notice the now Sydneysiders were a young bunch. But as the drummer began, his age was suddenly no longer a curiosity. His neat time changes and the technicality of his fills were first-rate. At first I didn’t much care for the singer’s voice, yet as he went on, I warmed to his casual, speak-singing style. It seemed to fit their image perfectly. The lead guitarist seemed completely disenchanted each time he sang bvs, though his catchy riffs more than made up for it. Their newest single Jumanji was a welcomed highlight and brought a fun, tropical pop feel.

By now the venue had packed out, but the crowd was well behaved; I’ve come to like a courteous Thursday night gig. As the curtains parted for Dappled Cities, a silver backdrop complete with Hollywood lights was revealed. And what a show we got! The bright lights were engulfing, complete with hectic strobes. I maybe had to squint a little bit, but they gave their music such energy from word go. The band was balanced, tight and well polished. That’s what playing together for ten years will do for you. Clearly happy to be back performing, they played from across their four albums, including crowd favourites The Price and Holy Chord. What I really loved about Dappled Cities is how both vocalists manage to share the role so evenly, seamlessly mixing with clear, resonant tones, layered octave harmonies and a reverb mic to set it off.

The Night is Young at Heart was one of the best moments of their show. With those identifiable time changes and crazy lights, it was completely exciting, and didn’t sound its age one bit. And when a girl climbed up onto the stage and danced her own heart out and flicked her long brown locks, they loved it, keeping the energy high and the outro long.

But I have to say, Run With the Wind is quickly turning into my favourtie song. It was pretty epic. Those gliding scalic synth lines and the soaring melodic falsetto chorus give the song its constant momentum and kept us enthralled.

Dappled Cities have impressively managed to continue to sound fresh and current with this track, but have retained their own identifiable sound. Not an easy feat. It will be interesting to see what direction their new album takes us. They will be returning to our stages this October.

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