Sunset Rubdown began in 2005 as a Spencer Krug (Wolf Parade, Frog Eyes, Fifths of Seven, Swan Lake) solo affair. On record, it’s a haunting, aesthetic vocal with some sublimely complex synthship – and by heck, does it transfer to the stage in the band’s first ever UK tour.
Beyond even the most heightened expectations, which are inevitably present. It’s far from a solo project now and this intimate gig unravels into one of the most brilliant experiences/displays of inconceivably amazing music likely to be witnessed this year, if not ever.
The tightness and focus of the band (and particularly the second drummer) is simply astounding – it’s joyous, manic and draining all at once. And there’s a divergence too, as what they’re emitting alone are completely distinct components. The textures seep into a technicolour tornado; a genre-confounding, epoch-defining display. The room falls into a scholarly silence amidst songs such as ‘Winged/Wicked Things’ and ‘Trumpet, Trumpet, Toot! Toot!’ – and the setlist is structured to perfection, keeping the audience engrossed in a mesmeric gaze of sorts.
Krug perches on a stool occasionally, mostly leaning into his synth as if spellbound by it. The guitar work is feverish and precise, the sound as a whole a vapour of nervous energy. Appreciation is rife, with never-ending applause and gratitude, and the whole band seem genuinely surprised by just how well they are received.
From the schizoid sonics of closing song, ‘The Mending Of The Gown’, to the insistent, instant epic quality of ‘Up on Your Leopard, Upon the End of Your Feral Days’, this is certainly a show. It’s endearing just how anxious they appear between songs too. The repertoire as a whole feels harder than it can convey on record, particularly ‘Shut Up I Am Dreaming of Places Where Lovers Have Wings’ – and it’s due to the huge variation in sound between songs, some expert timbral movement and a perfect fit of astounding musicians.
Some new songs are debuted too, giving as good evidence as any that the next studio output from this marvel of a collective is going to be as spectacular and expansive as anything they’ve done before. Truly an incredible “you had to be there” experience, a shame than only 200-odd have the privilege. Guess the masses had better get in there quicker next time…