May 1 2021
(Originally to be published by my student paper but it got lost or something and never went to print)
The upstairs band-room at Collingwood’s The Tote Hotel was filled to capacity for an evening of synth punk and psych rock on Saturday May 1.
Opening the night were synth driven, post-punk band Screensaver, from Melbourne. Featuring Krystal Maynard on vocals/synth, Christopher Stephenson on guitar, James Beck on drums, and Giles Fielke on bass/synth.
Everyone in Screensaver was amazing, but a special mention goes to James Beck who played some of the most intense drumming I’ve seen in years. I think the last drummer I saw who was this technically impressive was Per Byström from Exhaustion, before they broke up.
Rather than using a drum machine for their more synthwave songs, James used a drum pad. Seamlessly switching between the pads and his regular kit for an amazing mix of analog and digital sounds; evoking memories of bands such as early Joy Division and Melbourne’s NUN.
Unfortunately I couldn’t always hear Krystal’s vocals due to a few audio issues across the night, but when her voice was clear it brought to mind singers like Siouxsie Sioux, reinforcing Screensaver’s post-punk influence.
Screensaver have only released a handful of songs online, but near the end of their set they announced an album was due later this year. Thanks to their fantastic mix of post-punk, synthwave sounds, the album will be one not to be missed.
Following Screensaver was headliner Soundtrack Music.
The set started like a jam session, with a strong influence of Krautrock. The band evoked sounds similar to German experimental rock band CAN, with some of the tighter bits resembling Kraftwerk’s Ralf und Florian album.
Soundtrack Music features drums, bass, guitar and two synthesizers. With two members also contributing on vocals, it sometimes sounded like the band members were battling to be heard, and therefore came across a little messy.
Due to obvious issues with the sound system near where I stood, I want to give both bands the benefit of the doubt. Despite Soundtrack Music in particular suffering from a muddy mix, the audience seemed to enjoy themselves, bouncing and cheering loudly throughout the night.
If you would like to check out the bands, they can be found below:
Soundtrack Music: https://soundtrackmusicau.bandcamp.com/album/heat-wave