My Disco + Forces – The Toff in Town, Melbourne (23/04/2011)

It was 2004 and some friends invited me to the North Melbourne Town Hall to see a band they were excited about but whose name meant little to me. During the course of their set, which was typified by sharp, yet intricate and melodic hardcore songs, they held the audience mesmerised. Over the course of the next few years, my friends and I would loyally attend My Disco sets around Melbourne, as they gathered a larger audience and moved from the punk squats of the Pink Palace to shows at The East Brunswick Club.

As time went on, the group began to develop their sound, refining the ‘minimal’ approach they had hinted at in their formative years, developing their love of repetitive grooves, simple noisy guitar parts and steady yet creative drum patterns. They released albums- the Language of Numbers EP, Cancer, Paradise– before last year travelling to Chicago to record their latest release, Little Joy, with their hero, punk rock legend Steve Albini. His band, Big Black, once recorded a song from which the band took their name. Having released the album on CD last year, Saturday saw My Disco celebrate the release of Little Joy as a double 12” LP with a show at The Toff in Town.

Support act Forces struggled for the most part to hold the crowd’s attention. The duo were stationed at the front of the stage behind a Macbook and drum pad respectively, pumping out big persistent electro beats with four feet planted firmly in the 1980s. While the repetitive and simple nature of their music bore some similarity to that of the headlining act, the lack of acknowledgement of any of the developments in electronic and dance music since the early nineties made Forces’ set come off as feeling dated and monotonous. Most people in the crowd talked amongst themselves and jostled for positions at the bar.

Red lights and white smoke indicated the arrival of My Disco, as Liam Andrews, Ben Andrews and Rohan Robeiro donned their respective instruments and launched into Closer, the first track off Little Joy. While the bass thumped in our chests, the band continued to rip through the rest of the album, with Liam frequently stepping up to the microphone mid-song to drone out a repetitive phrase as his simple bass playing sat as still as his vocal refrains. Robeiro maintained the beat while constantly moving around the kit throwing in variations of jungle rhythms and strange time signatures, and Ben Andrews played his role of the wild man, constantly throwing his long hair back and forth and like a one-man mosh pit.

Ben’s guitar work was beyond simple. He used it as a tool to make a wash of noise without playing any discernible melody, and as on the new record, the band delivered the material with no sense of dynamics; from beginning to end each piece remained at a static pace and level. Having evolved their minimal post rock thing to such a point though, a slight sense of monotony did begin to creep into the gig. It seemed as if little happened in each song and, despite Ben Andrews tried and true jumping around act, intended as a counterpoint to his brother’s still, emotionless stance, it felt as if none of the band were particularly interested in the gig. All of which is a long way from the emotive and energetic performances of the band’s formative years.

My Disco remain a very interesting act who consistently change and consciously evolve their sound. For me though, they have reached a point of such minimalism that it now lacks the intensity of yore; the single bass-note songs only shifting an inch during the course of five or so minutes before ending almost as they begun. A personal preference for dynamic shifts and therefore energy and momentum stopped this from a being a generally positive appraisal. Having said that, I like many others will certainly continue to watch My Disco’s progress and evolution with interest.

Originally posted on FasterLouder on 22/04/2011. View original article.

Photography by Greg Bricknell. View photo gallery.

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