The Avalanches’ latest tour proves they’re still legends
If you’re a veteran fan of THE AVALANCHES, you might well have spent the last decade or so thinking that: a) the sophomore album was never actually going to see the light of day, and b) live performances were now all but of legend.
Their critically acclaimed debut record, Since I Left You, was released way back in 2000 and encapsulated a wondrous effort of 3,500 audio samples, meticulously stitched together into a seamless hour of music. Given the album’s bewildering reception, there was every intention of a follow-up record, but for a whole bunch of reasons it took a bloody long time to be finally be unearthed.
There were numerous rumours flying around for years from both management and press, including this beautiful example of a PSA gone awry, so when Wildflower finally dropped in 2016, it was readily met with much anticipation and exploded onto the airwaves to mesmerise old and new fans alike.
Wildflower was largely created by plunderphonics wizards Robbie Chater and Tony Di Blasi, who stand as the group’s last remaining original members. The timeline and production on this record is a whole other story, but it is worth mentioning that they used the same sampling equipment that they’d used on Since I Left You, which still stored a myriad of musical ideas. Fun fact: this set-up involved some now rather ancient bits of technology, including StudioVision software (which ceased production in 1998) and that can only be used on one of those old school beige Mac computers that is incompatible with most monitor screens weighing under 30kg.
Following the release of Wildflower, The Avalanches went onto play an exclusive and very much hyped set at Splendour in The Grass and a only small handful of shows around Australia and New Zealand over the past 18 months, before finally gracing us in Brisbane last week. As they kindly reminded us during the show, it had been nearly a 20 years since they’d last performed here, and it was well and truly overdue.
So, after nearly two decades off-the-radar, can The Avalanches still deliver?
Keep in mind, it’s not an easy feat to translate near-entirely sample based productions into a live show with a full band of touring members, let alone incorporating some pretty stellar visual accompaniments, which were synchronised perfectly with their idiosyncratic daydream tunes.
Generally I avoid taking photos or videos on my phone at gigs, but I’m extremely glad I nabbed a few short bits of footage because there were a lot of details that I didn’t pick up on at first during the performance. Let’s blame the initial ignorance on the set’s captivating animations and the sheer dance-inducing nature of the music. There’s probably a tonne of other things that I still missed, nevertheless, my revisit to these clips shed new light on Robbie Chater’s apparition on a second drum kit alongside touring member Paris Jeffree, and well as Tony Di Blasi busting out a god damn live theremin solo during ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’! Not bad at all to make a renewed impression, 20 years on.
In addition to that, the performance was incredibly really tight, even with a short-lived technical difficulty with (touring member) Spank Rock’s microphone during ‘Frankie Sinatra’, which really only tested the audience as it evolved into an engaging segment of crowd karaoke. An encore brought ‘Noisy Eater’ alongside a beaut video assimilation of pop-culture film references before closing with their undying classic, ‘Since I Left You’.
While a DJ set from these guys would surely be a fantastic showcase of the all the scrupulous detail and production finesse laid down by The Avalanches in both their records, this live show was completely invigorating both musically and in energy – so, yes, The Avalanches can and did deliver.
Even though the Australian-leg of this tour has now wrapped up following their shows at Golden Plains and in Adelaide over the weekend, we highly recommend that you keep The Avalanches on your radar for any future performances – if you haven’t seen them already!
Words by Freya Dinesen
Image by Claudia Ciapocha