Live Review: The Sundowners

Nice’N’Sleazy – 11/2

Many of the descriptions of The Sundowners I’ve digested involve drawing comparisons to other bands that fall into the wide and equally eclectic genre of psychedelia. One person told me that I should expect “Something with a psychedelic, Velvet Underground feel” – needless to say I was pretty excited to see these guys play.

For me, their debut self-titled album fell short of the hype. It had neither the signature stamp of highly organized chaos that has marked their predecessors, or had strong enough a pop influence showing through for me to call it successful in either fields. I was still optimistic however that the band’s sound could translate into something more exciting in a live delivery.

The Sundowners are certainly aware of the tradition they are a part of; having emblazoned the stage with an amalgamation of LED lights, flower chains and a not inconsiderably sized dreamcatcher – making for quite a distinct atmosphere in the intimate setting of Nice N’ Sleazy’s basement stage.

The band’s technical skill is without fault; the gig being essentially free from any of the mess-ups that typically separate a live performance from a studio recording. The whole affair being highly rehearsed, and it would have to be, considering that the frontwomen Fiona Skelly and Niamh Rowe sing in harmony for the greater part of the bands tracklist. Their thudding single ‘Into the Light,’ making heavy use of reverb pedals to give the song its psychedelic aesthetic with Fiona and Niamh driving the song forward with their powerful interwoven harmonies – a real highlight of the gig. Unfortunately I’m not sure any of this particularly enamoured me to the band.

It’s the same lack of a distinct direction that I heard on their album which comes across in their live performance. The highly rehearsed nature of the performance detracts from them developing any real substantial sound they can call their own. I hear pop influences, but not enough. I hear psychedelic rock/folk influences, but not enough. In the face of this, the band’s image is at danger of coming across as contrived. This isn’t psychedelic music as you’ve heard from the likes of Hendrix or Funkadelic, this is psychedelia by that guy who tried a joint at a party once and perhaps didn’t really enjoy it.

[Jarlath Mulhern – @jarlathmulhern]

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