They’ve been billed on some of the biggest music festivals worldwide, but finally Perth psychedelic oddballs POND returned to Melbourne on Wednesday night. With seven records under their belt since forming in 2009, the Nick Allbrook-fronted band, which also consists of Jay Watson, Shiny Joe Ryan and Jamie Terry, are a hugely prolific group in the studio. Yet when it comes to touring their home country, they haven’t been so busy. This tour, on the back of their most critically acclaimed album to date, The Weather, is the quartet’s first Australian headline tour since 2013’s Hobo Rocket Tour.
Back then, POND played two nights at Melbourne’s live music home, Corner Hotel. This time around, almost four years on from those dates, the group sold out three shows at the same venue. It’s a clear indicator of the esteem surrounding POND’s exhilarating stage performance.
With a massive discography to choose from, it was intriguing to see what tracks POND would pick out to fill in their lengthy hour and a half set. As expected from a vastly experienced band, the boys pulled together the ideal combination of older classics, rarities and ripping newbies.
The set got underway with one of those ripping newbies, the politically-charged anthem ‘30000 Megatons’. Although it doesn’t particularly have a climatic nature like POND’s best songs, it’s an appropriate siphon into The Weather’s lead single, ‘Sweep Me Off My Feet’. And that’s exactly what Allbrook did – swept the crowd off their feet. It was only the second song of the set, but it didn’t stop Allbrook from venturing out to the crowd and giving them a closer look at the small-in-stature, big-in-character frontman.
Following the two The Weather cuts, POND dipped back in time to 2015’s Man It Feels Like Space Again, with standout tracks ‘Waiting Around For Grace’ and ‘Elvis’ Flaming Star’. The contrast between POND’s more pop-leaning latest album The Weather and its predecessor MIFLSA became particularly evident at this point. Both ‘Waiting Around For Grace’ and ‘Elvis’ Flaming Star’ are more guitar-centred, while set-opener ‘30000 Megatons’ and the subsequent ‘Sweep Me Off My Feet’ are considerably synth-led.
The sonic differences POND have endured throughout their near 10-year existence was exaggerated even more so with the unearthing of the classic ‘Don’t Look At The Sun Or You’ll Go Blind’. A track from their 2009 debut album, Psychedelic Mango, the infectiously funky bass lines triggered the audience into a groove that had not yet existed. It’s clear that ‘DLATSOYGB’ has genuinely stood the test of time.
A definite highlight was the performance of ‘Fire In The Water’, a Japanese bonus track on The Weather. After hearing it for the first time, I wasn’t the only one in the crowd in disbelief that they couldn’t fit it somewhere on the record. With it’s driving synth grooves, ‘Fire In The Water’ would have easily complimented the The Weather‘s dynamic. “We couldn’t fit this one on the album, the mix just wasn’t right.” POND guitarist Shiny Joe Ryan said disappointedly.
The weirdest moment of the night came when Allbrook confused and thrilled the Corner band-room at the same time with a bizarre performance of ‘Paint Me Silver’. As the cow-bell set the track in motion, the frontman swapped the stage for the crowd, grabbing hold of everyone in the front row, before venturing through the swarm of puzzled POND lovers. Just when nobody thought Allbrook could get any stranger, he sprawled out on beer-saturated floor, still reciting ‘Paint Me Silver’. It was whacky, weird and wonderful.
While the break between The Weather Tour and POND’s last Australian headline tour was far too long, the near four-year wait was undeniably worth it. POND exemplified the reason why they are not only a staple of summer festivals in Australia, but also on the international circuit. Fans will just be hoping it’s not another lengthy wait before their headline tour, as this show was one that needs to be relived.