Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, Fri 17 May
Cardiff music fans are no stranger to the recent venue drought, seen most starkly with the Save Gwdihw protests, but many Australian cities are suffering similar fates. Controversial curfew laws have resulted in an estimated 176 venues closing in Sydney alone, but it hasn’t managed to cull the amount of indie-tinged garage and alternative rockers that are teeming from Straya’s east coast: The Chats, Amyl And The Sniffers, Courtney Barnett and Tame Impala are all testament to the cockroach spirit of the scene. Joining their ranks now are Body Type [above], an outfit championed by Radio 1, NME and Triple J, who deploy slick harmonies and playful basslines with ease.
The single Welsh date on their UK tour saw support sets from locals Clwb Fuzz and London quartet Krush Puppies. The former were excellent, their post-grunge sound reminiscent of Wolf Alice with a touch of Petrol Girls’ punkish qualities. Frontman Joe Woodward took a song to hit his stride, but in time came off as strong and stylistically relevant; bassist Emily Kocan’s voice captured a delicate yet threateningly abrasive energy.
Krush Puppies [above] were a damp squib, unfortunately. When they worked, the lead vocals had a pleasant ambient quality, but frequently sounded limp – a theme continued by the lethargic performance from both guitarists, the bassist and drummer ultimately carrying the performance. The onstage banter was limited to a couple of remarks between the members, with an air of detachment that made the audience feel like uninvited intruders on a private session.
Body Type opened with one of their first tracks, 264: a nod to their early fans whose support had allowed them to make it to the UK. Visually, the show was an intimate affair, lacking the dense rows of lights, screens and distractions that will surely follow once Body Type break into the mainstream. The setlist toured through almost every song on both their EPs to date, animating the more understated and subdued tracks in their discography, such as Insomnia.
There’s a disarming, unadulterated charm about the lyrics that highlight the banal mundanity of normal life, loosely disguised behind opulent metaphors and the insatiably catchy instrumentation that taps into a distinctly Australian DIY sound. Georgia Wilkinson-Derums’ drumming provided backbone, which is not to say a crutch – rather, each member played as a cohesive group, and tied together under syrupy harmonies.
It’s a frequent cliché for reviewers to describe a performance as a vehicle to take you on a magical, metaphorical journey, but that wasn’t quite the case here. Instead, Body Type remain firmly grounded in everyday modern life, but infuses it with the essence of 90s rock, and approachable Australian slackerism.
words ALEX PAYNE photos BETHAN MILLER