A beautiful night full of passion, history & amazing music.
Normally, I tend to loathe nostalgia or anniversary tours. Not that I don’t appreciate a good, deep-cut in a set: some of my fondest memories have been seeing a band I love crack out an old gem that I never thought I’d get the chance to appreciate live. Yet when it comes to looking back over a whole catalogue of music as opposed to being present and moving forward, I’ve always had a limited patience for it.
Thankfully, lower-case instrumental homeboys sleepmakeswaves avoided any sense of forced back-sliding on their ten-year anniversary tour when it rolled through Sydney Uni’s Manning Bar this week. At a venue located upon the very campus that the idea for the band was first conceived during a philosophy lecture, no less. Well, that’s ‘post-rock’ for ya, friends! There was no unnecessary, over-blown rehashing of a poorly-aged album here; no pretending that there was some golden age that needed to be ‘recreated’ either. Rather, the band, with the re-addition of Jono ‘Kid’ Khor resurrecting their most well-known lineup, presented a night that reminded all in attendance of the history, delicacy and importance of this band’s body of work. Whilst still taking artistic risks that kept both the band and punters on their toes to really make for a wondrous show.
And it was a good thing that the Sydney group were as sharp as they were because they were nearly blown off the stage by their Northern Irish tour buds, …And So I Watch You From Afar. Their combination of technical, dazzling riffs and immense energy, along with more pedal twiddling for a full lifetime, left the gathered Manning Bar throng speechless. Alongside a really strong showing from local support act, alt-rockers Hurst, it would normally be a tough support roster to follow. However, sleepmakeswaves aren’t just some “normal” band. They’re a hard-working, talented band who’ve cut their teeth hard over the last ten years next to some of the most ferocious live acts in the entire world. So it’s little wonder that sharing the stage over the past decade with the likes of 65daysofstatic, Russian Circles and Underoath – just to name a few – has now translated to the four-piece pulling off one of the most inspiring and heartwarming live show package Australia has to offer currently.
From the opening strands of ‘To You, They Are Birds, To Me, They Are Voices In The Forest’, the passion and energy that these four men put into live performance proved exactly why this band are more than well deserving of their legacy. As they tore through all manner of cuts from their expansive catalogue – from ‘We Sing The Body Electric’ off their self-titled EP, right through to newer cuts like ‘Midnight Sun’ and the doom-march of ‘Glacier’ off 2017’s magnificent ‘Made Of Breath Only’ LP – it seemed that for sleepmakeswaves, this show was every bit as cathartic as it was physical for them. From the off-mic screaming to the band flinging themselves around in flowing, unabashed glee, all kept in order by the tight drum work of the ever under-rated Tim Adderley, it was clear a decade run in the music industry as a post-rock collective hadn’t dulled their sheer need to be onstage. And that’s endearing.
The most powerful musical moment of the night came when the band aired ‘Your Time Will Come Again’, the romantically triumphant closing track off their breakthrough LP ‘Love Of Cartography’. The piece’s haunting melodics which erupts into its euphoric outro was a healthy reminder to all assembled in awe that using great, memorable chords and flexing dynamics effectively has existed long before the Gang of Youths popular era.
Given it was a hometown show in celebration of an incredible history, there were bound to be some special, one-off moments. The invitation of founding member Tom Binetter to help perform ‘By Moving The Stars I Have Found Where You Are Hiding’ off their first demo was one such surreal, loving moment. Having their friend known only as ‘Joel’ come out to add tenor sax for the final half of ‘À Gaze Blank & Pitiless As The Sun’ was another stellar part as well. These two instances, among other moments, were rather bold moves for the band to resurrect the buried elements of their past, but by God did it pay off! The air and gravity of this gig (and tour) were absolutely reflected in the night’s well-vetted setlist and the quartet’s staggering performances.
As the final piano strands of the life-affirming ‘Great Northern’ brought this glorious evening to a close, it was bloody hard not to feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Just basking in that grand sense of being present for a truly memorable night with such incredible musicians. It was like going through a chest draw of old memories; like sleepmakeswaves weren’t at all afraid to delve into their most vulnerable sides on a night where they could have easily been as guarded as they liked. After all, they were the birthday boys. It was nostalgic, but naturally so, in a way that completely made sense. Here’s to the next decade of sleepmakeswaves. For who knows just how far and wide they will go!
And from me, personally? Thank you so much for the music that you make, sleepmakeswaves.
All PC: Ashleigh Addams Photo. Find more of her photos from the night below!
…And So I Watch You From Afar: