A Live Experience with We Lost The Sea, Have/Hold, Half/Cut and Omahara @ The Old Bar, Melbourne, 18th April 2016

jamesMelbourne has a multitude of bands circling the musical scene, looking for fame, glory and a good time. It’s those that swoop in with such ferocious enthusiasm that are destined for greater things. Sydney’s We Lost The Sea, a highly emotive instrumental group, may just be one of those bands after witnessing their intense performances at The Old Bar, an icon amoung icons in the Melbourne music scene.

Someone who organised this event was mighty keen. Four bands in one of the smallest but most vital venues in Melbourne’s music scene, The Old Bar. For those unacquainted, The Old Bar is your exemplary band bar/room, of a converted terraced home, covered by historical band posters, punk lover bar stuff, sticky carpet and a right smothering of Melbourne’s alternative music scene.

Arriving a little past 9 pm, the venue was virtually at capacity. This resulted in us experiencing a band from behind a brick wall, not ideal scenario for “experiencing” a band, but after feeling a little too close comfort with friendly strangers, we took refuge at the back bar and could barely hear Omahara. A band hailing from Hobart that had the packed band room mesmerised by the minimal experimentation of feedback guitars and syncopated percussion.  A band that would be perfectly suited for the one of Melbourne’s most popular and current events, Dark Mofo.

Half/Cut, the second support for the night, epitomise the wonders of 90’s shoegaze. Taking some great moments including ‘Slowdive‘, ‘Lush and ‘Pale Saints playing through to a washed out set where the dizzying sounds of reverbed guitars made it impossible to take in any of the lyrics, which was particularly frustrating as they appeared to be sung with such conviction.  In the studio, the band sounds great. Live, despite some moments of emotive crescendos, felt awkward and clunky. The may be working with some great ideas and concepts but the delivery sounded half-hearted.

With the venue now at capacity and a stagnant line up waiting outside in vain for what was now a sold-out show, another band with a “forward slash” in its name, Have/Hold, may well have been the reason capacity was probably doubled. Have/Hold play with such ferocity and energy, we were reminded the importance yet again for commanding a stage. There was no denying the talent and sheer passion that Have/Hold have for what they create. Music that is powerful, articulate and superbly well-rehearsed.  Guitarist/Lead Vocalists, Luke Shields is the perfect front man, his voice is raw, dead on key and drives each song through a lyrical journey. The entire set was faultless and having read their more recent support of heavy outfit bands, there is no doubt this band will be head-lining large gigs for those inclined to a bit of head banging.

With feet now swollen and trainers stuck to the soiled carpet having been wedged in one spot, the result of an overly populated tiny venue, We Lost The Sea, squeeze their way onto the stage. There are 6 of them and momentarily, it all looks very uncomfortable.  Here is a band that brings together a mixed crowd, for their music borders moments of grunge, heavy metal, ethereal rock and mellow indie. Collectively, they draw upon many influences to string together music that is both beautiful and disturbing. Perfectly suited to a movie of deep devilish proportions.  Equally there is something uplifting and hopeful about their more recent work, (despite the sad passing of their singer) the band play their entire Departure Songs EP (coincidentally the exact title to a recent album by a band called Hammock who sounded sometimes identical).  Opening song ‘A Gallant Gentleman sounds epic and heart stopping, gently weaving the punters through delicate intricate guitars, greeted at the end to wall of sound that peaks the ears.

The entire night plays out like a symphony and the audience is entranced by the sound and the heat of the proximity of the person standing next to them. There is little if no banter from the band, as this would be difficult with their lack of microphones. Instead, each song is played out to ethereal levels, like each song was their last breath of life.  The samples used to capture the intensity and storytelling qualities of the tracks provide the perfect introduction and set the scene for many of the songs.  Like their fellow soundscape maestro’s Mogwai, Explosions In The Sky and Godspeed! New Black Emperor, here is a band who can create passion, emotion and a sense of an “event” by wrapping themselves in the sounds they create.  We Lost The Sea are powerful and grand, worthy of the success they will gain.