Expectations were high at The Corner tonight, this being the first time that The Internet have graced our shores since releasing last year’s list-topping album Ego Death. Upon arrival the line snaked around the corner (literally) and once inside fans chattered with excited anticipation.
Jaala are a really good band, their highly original mixture of jazz, punk and soul ensuring that they are a constant surprise to watch. Despite sharing some musical territories with the headliners, they were not a an obvious choice of support for tonight, and it was hard to gauge how their in-your-face punk stylings went over with the crowd.
As soon as The Internet walked on, however, it was nothing but love for the Los Angeles based five-piece. Starting off with Get Away, the first song from Ego Death, frontwoman Syd Bennett received cheers, and herself and a shirtless Jameel Bruner did their best to keep the crowd hyped, although in a clearly humbled and appreciative manner.
Delving into songs both new and old, it was the more recent material that earned the most attention and also seemed to be the most upbeat and pop-oriented. It was during some of such songs hat shifted away from The Internet’s mellow, neo-soul groove, that the band seemed less convincing.
Just Sayin, which on record is a smooth, soulful number, was given a more energetic reading, complete with a crowd participation section singing along to the ‘you fucked up’ hook. Gone, a collaborative track between Syd and UK duo Snakehips, had a spaced-out dance feel and programmed drums that seemed out of place in the set.
The band itself were extremely competent and sounded great, particularly Rhodes player Bruner and bassist Patrick Paige, who played an incredibly tasty solo at one point. Syd’s voice is perfectly suited to the smooth setting of The Internet’s music and, especially when she used her falsetto, was an absolute treat.
All of which made it seem a shame that backing tracks were used quite obviously throughout the set, unnecessary backing vocals poking through the front of house mix instead of blending with the live sound of the band.
Producer Matt Martin was also included on keys, however his synth parts seemed rather cheesy and superfluous considering the quality of the other musicians onstage.
Special Affair was the highlight of the set and received the biggest crowd response, its walking bassline and catchy melody being undeniably enjoyable.
Although the material and musicianship is strong, it’s possible that something special from The Internet’s recorded efforts has not translated live, at least not on this occasion. Even when singing along to a well known song, such as Girl, the audience seemed largely disengaged and the energy in the room did not lift in the manner you would expect.
Published in Beat Magazine on 17/02/2016.