Written By | Nathan Washington
Berlin-based and Byron Bay-raised electro-pop act Parcels are playing 170 Russell in Melbourne tonight, and it is sure to be a packed venue with fans queuing well past the doors and around the street corner before the show is even due to begin. For a Monday night, this is quite an impressive sight, but considering the wild support from a large Australian fan base who are keen to hear the band’s self-titled debut live, you wouldn’t expect anything less. Supported by fellow Australian electro-soul duo Alfalfa, attendees are in for a night of relentless dancing and irresistible tunes.
View more photos of Alfalfa HERE
Alfalfa takes the stage with a cast of musicians, all dressed in ‘80s throwback tennis outfits, ready to make an impression on the swelling audience. Cousins Toby and Bella make up the duo, but the live act wouldn’t be complete without the theatrics and music the whole group provides together. Based on their outfits alone, it is clear they are aiming for a lighthearted and humorous tone, similar in direction to fellow Australian act Confidence Man who made their rounds on festival circuits before putting out any music.
However, when the set kicks off, Alfalfa surprise the audience with an uptempo, super funky and fun sound, filled with solid bass lines and synth galore, and suddenly it’s clear that they’re not just here for the spectacle. Online, the duo credits acts such as Kimbra and Frank Ocean as influences, but they do not wear these on their sleeve, incorporating elements like high-intensity jazzy guitar chords alongside powerful keyboard stabs to create an enticing blend of disco, pop and soul.
The performances are all super tight and the act has a lot of fun together, with no shortage of dancing occurring on-stage as well as in the audience. Singing is divided up between Bella and Toby, with simple but effective performances fitting the vibe perfectly, aided by the blue-pink neon lighting array shining down on the stage. A highlight of the set, the band pauses towards the end of their time for an aerobics warm-up routine, getting the audience ready for the night of grooving ahead, the venue is filled with fans mirroring the moves.
Finally, with an impressive impromptu rap performed by Bella about supporting Parcels on their tour, the act departs to wild applause, leaving audience heart rates elevated.
View more photos of Alfalfa HERE
After a spirited audience singalong to ABBA classic Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!, Parcels emerge and quickly launch into a taste of what’s to come, starting the set with the intro to their 2018 self-titled LP and filling the venue with a riding bass-line, chunky jazz guitar, harmonised vocals and warm, full-bodied synth. Setting a tempo that won’t drop for the rest of the night, the instruments are vibrant and incredibly catchy guitar riffs are a big highlight, while the drumming and bass hold everything together tightly.
Following on from their upbeat start with single Lightenup, some comparisons could be drawn from the excellent guitar work and funky rhythms to disco legends Daft Punk, and if you thought this you wouldn’t be alone, as the Berlin-based act were discovered by Daft Punk themselves at their first show in France, quickly getting them in the studio to produce Parcels’ debut single in 2017. The intensity of the music is mirrored by pulsing neon lights, ranging all throughout the colour spectrum and sweeping across the band wildly as they play instruments back-to-back and groove with each other.
After a few tracks, the band pauses to greet the audience at the venue, fans packed wall-to-wall, and get a roar of appreciation in response, attendees already dazzled by the performance so far. The set doesn’t include much further fan interaction but Parcels are more focused on giving them killer music to move to, and the audience love them all the more for it. Adding to the quality of the instrumentation, vocals more than live up to expectations live, with up to four different members of the band lending their voices at any one time, building powerful harmonies over the juicy bass and powerful synth.
Solo vocal performances are also very strong, with each singer able to contribute their own sound to the groovy combination of disco-soul and electro-pop. Delving into fan favourites towards the end of the night, the band pulls out Daft Punk-produced Overnight, leading to a whole-audience singalong complete with frenzied dancing to the incredibly catchy guitar-work, and following this the Alfalfa band members are brought back onto stage for a captivating routine punctuated by intensely strobing white lights, giving the effect of a stop-motion animation live on-stage.
View more photos of Parcels HERE
Finally, to wrap up, Parcels take the night full circle by pulling out a reprise of the first song played, as the members theatrically depart one by one, each giving up their instrument and bowing to the audience for appreciation. By the end of this departure, all that is left is the tight and consistent drumming that has been the backbone of the performance, and when this concludes the drummer emerges for the loudest round of applause of all, both for the musician and the band as a whole.
The event concludes and the audience slowly trudges out, exhausted from the intense energy of the night. With strong performances all around, Alfalfa will be one to look out for on the Australian scene in months to come, with the potential of new music coming soon, and Parcels took 170 Russell by storm, filling the venue with electricity for the duration of their massive 75-minute set. Fans will hope to see them back on Australian shores sooner rather than later, but for now they have a big North American tour to look forward to, commencing February 20th in Washington DC.
Photos By | Nathan Washington
See more work from Nathan Washington HERE