Wednesday, May 28, 2014

LIVE FROM NEW YORK: Strange Talk at the Merc

Strange Talk live at the Mercury Lounge, 2014.
I'm still a little over-exhausted and hoarse from last night but it was totally worth it. I spent the evening with the indie synth band Strange Talk, an affable four-piece from Melbourne who I saw perform live last October as a bonus surprise while waiting to see fellow Aussie Betty Who at The Westway during CMJ.

Forgoing the stripper poles, instead Strange Talk rocked it out in another CMJ-friendly venue -- one that's quickly becoming among my overall favorites -- the iconic Mercury Lounge. Stephen (vocals/keys), Gerard (bass), Gill (guitar/keys) and Travis (drums) walked up on stage just after 11PM for the Lounge's late show last night, playing a handful of tunes from their debut set Cast Away (out on Wind-Up Records and worth every cent) as well as some b-sides and one-offs that have yet to be released Stateside. Most notable would be the tune "Sexual Lifestyle", comically introduced after acknowledging the amusing piece of free merch available at the show -- little silver tins with Strange Talk's logo. Inside? Yep, condoms. Didn't really make sense to me either.

Despite a few technical hangups -- mostly involving the Gill's keyboard, leading to him and frontman Stephen switching their staging -- and a few drunk hecklers ("'Stralia, mate!"...I really hate people sometimes.), Strange Talk pulled out an admirable performance that was an interesting live embodiment of their dreamy, synth-based material, bending more on the rock side of the spectrum. Breakout single "Climbing Walls" was played rather early and was a fan favorite when I saw them at CMJ. That was still the case last night, with the entire crowd singing along to the Oooh-oooh-oooh bits. "Falling In Love" was met with in tandem crowd jumping and headbanging. 

Current single, "Young Hearts" which was recently featured in an ad campaign for the social network Snapchat, helped close out the set before their final jam -- "Eskimo". The energy really skyrocketed for the latter.

It's for intimate showcases like last night that I feel so grateful to live in a city like New York. You can witness live a band who genuinely feels on the verge of something very big in such a small, vulnerable setting. You can't fake their talent or energy and I was most impressed by the guitarist's licks and the drumkit's crystalline clear kicks and beats. If you haven't yet taken some time with their debut album Cast Away, make time. It's full of earwormmy synth hooks and you won't regret it.

Fingers crossed for Strange Talk that they won't be playing such intimate gigs for long -- it's clear they have a foothold here in NYC (per Stephen, their second favorite city in the world after Melbourne) and as they say, if you can make it here...

For more on Strange Talk, follow them on Twitter via @Strange_Talk. For some stellar pro photos from this performance, keep your eyes peeled to Follow The Stars Photography who will be posting some gorgeous shots shortly.

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