Methyl Ethel Brisbane Review @ The Triffid

Methyl Ethel played The Triffid (Brisbane) 28 June, 2019.
Solar-powered journalist with a love for live reviews and the challenge of describing sounds with words. Always: cooking, often: thrifting, sometimes: playing the piano, rarely: social, never: late. Living abroad in Japan.

“I was taken aback when the boys first entered, all awkward and obscured by curly tuffs of hair and dorky t-shirts.”

That quote was from my review of Methyl Ethel's Brisbane show circa 2017 – my first foray into the WA band. I had tentatively moseyed my way into the crowd and was stunned by the band's peculiar mannerisms.

That gig became the catalyst of two intense years closely following their movements – musically, tour-wise, on many a festival line-up. Having so frequently stood as an audience member, I almost considered boycotting their performance at The Triffid (28 June). Though the key word there is ‘almost’, as I once again stood as an audience member.

Support act Broncho started dark and sinister with ‘Weekend’ from album ‘Bad Behaviour’. The spooky, soprano ‘oohs’ leading the song were intriguing – setting an alluring and unpredictable precedent. ‘Sandman’ retained that darker mood – its instrumental melody an applaudable standout.

Though indie pop was breached with the lighthearted ‘Get In My Car’, debut single ‘Try Me Out Sometime’ similarly upbeat. I expected more of their grunge-like manner, however their sound continued to change; some songs were slightly wishy-washy, too murky to differentiate between the next.

Lyrics too sometimes became lost in the music – more white noise than spoken words. Discography heavyweight ‘Class Historian’ asserted itself as a deserving crowd-pleaser – another boppy addition to their set list. But the newer music was bolder, more experimental, and I respected that risk-taking venture.

The enigmatic as always Methyl Ethel controversially started at the opposite end of the expected spectrum – touring to promote their 2019 record yet launching into ‘H1 N1 A’, from 2014. The emotion-rich, slow-burner soared and dipped like mountains and low-lying valleys; from old, to new, the band unveiled the unreleased ‘Majestic AF’.

“Thank you!” frontman Chris Wright gushed before adoring eyes, recent single ‘Trip The Mains’ already simmering. The ghostly riff of ‘Hip Horror’ then emerged and, as always, the band showed they execute ‘eerie’ brilliantly (‘L’Heure Des Sorcieres’ from the previous album, a prime example).

Another ‘Triage’ addition next – ‘All The Elements’ lesser known though ironically, as per the lyrics (“There’s somethin’ in my head, but I can’t get it out”) the anthem swiftly stuck.

“Thank you very much Brisbane,” Chris acknowledged the audience again, “it’s nice to see you all again.”

New Methyl Ethel music declared itself as imminent, as a second unreleased song was revealed. The unfamiliar tune was nicely juxtaposed with the lyrically-beautiful, and ‘Oh Human Spectacle’ debut, ‘Twilight Driving’.

‘Real Tight’ followed, the mood then lulling with two estranged tracks from ‘Triage’. ‘What About The 37 Degrees’ and ‘Post-Blue’ were very similar – both dramatic, drawn-out, and extremely theatrical.

Chris stopped to declare: “We love Broncho so much. They travelled all the way from the northern hemisphere to tour with us.” The pause for conversation proved the perfect pallet-cleanser, high spirits bouncing back with the pacier ‘Ruiner’.

But as if onboard a rocket powered by crowd energy, it was the final three songs that brought lift-off.

First: cue countdown (the stereotypical “10, 9, 8…”) with the harpsichord embellished ‘Scream Whole’, feet slamming in beat with the epic bass-thumper.

Second: we were airborne with the ever-almighty ‘Ubu’, the fan favourite fuelling the engine’s burning fire.

Third: ‘Drink Wine’ – an underrated underdog, full of sparkle and shimmer. It floored the audience.

Methyl Ethel. The Triffid. Straight into the stratosphere.

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