Gig Reviews

The Japanese House + Caitlin Park – Plan B Small Club, Sydney 15/01/16

At a time when some Sydneysiders are in two minds about the recent takeover of their beloved Goodgod Small Club, we take to Liverpool Street on a rainy Friday for one of the early nights of what’s now Plan B Small Club.

Inside the Danceteria, we first absorb the mellow and minimalist tones of local muso Caitlin Park. She’s armed with nothing but an acoustic guitar and, as she proclaims to the audience, a significantly smaller pedal board than our headlining heroine.

Park smooths out with opener Wake Up In A Whirr, still mostly shrouded in darkness. With both instrumental and vocal samples to boot, she eases the crowd with her nonchalant charm and riveting musical genius, and after a few tweaks she transitions into the melodic Hunt For The Young, leaving the audience in awe.

Park powers through her short 30-minute set with Baby Teeth and Tic Tac Language, taken from her 2011 debut Milk Annual, and Where I Slept from her cinematically-influenced follow-up The Sleeper. She’s subdued, but it makes her music all the more mesmerising.

A speedy changeover sees The Japanese House take to the stage not half an hour later. All three members, led by UK youngster Amber Bain, are incredibly plain-clothed, but there is no need for grand fashion statements. With their music capturing audiences across the world, the trio are on the road supporting fellow Englishmen and indie-bop dukes The 1975, but tonight is solely theirs.

Opening with the sparse beats and samples of the title track from their latest EP Clean, the dense crowd barely sways, mostly standing back to appreciate the waves of sound crashing over them. No moment of silence goes untouched by noise, with feedback and sparse tones pervading the room.

Pools To Bathe In follows up with a shudder to the delight of the crowd, while Teeth brings a warped hip-hop essence to the fold, with those permanent vocoder-like vocals of Bain sounding even less gender-specific than they are on the record.

The rest of the set follows in a similar fashion, pulsing through A Letter By The Water, Sugar Pill and Cool Blue from their most recent EP, and Sister and Still from their debut EP Pools To Bathe In. It’s the latter of which that draws the most reaction, but on this night you’d be hard-pressed to find a more completely enchanted crowd in Sydney.

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