From hazy roots grow tight progressive tunes, however unlikely it may seem. This West Australian foursome emerged as a jamming collective – from the skeleton of fellow Perth-dwellers Tame Impala.
The line-up has fluctuated since their 2008 inception, alongside ever-freakier album titles such as Psychedelic Mango, Hobo Rocket and, most recently, Man, It Feels Like Space Again (produced by Tame Impala founder Kevin Parker). Surely such free-spirited bohemians can’t produce concise pop tunes within the regimented confines of a gig? Well, it turns out they can. Singer/guitarist Nick Allbrook has reportedly objected to the term ‘psychedelic’ being used to describe Pond, but while so much about tonight’s gig is broadly that - the spaced-out jams, layers of synths and early sci-fi samples – the material itself really rocks.
Tonight the Ballroom is transformed into a land of paisley shirts and gauzy purple lights, rammed to bursting with youthful peers. Pond’s visual appeal is instant. Like Noel Fielding’s higher-quality creations, the quartet have a zinging, Mighty Boosh-esque stage presence. And then there’s the music; part Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie, part T.Rex, part b-i-g pile of drugs… A night with Pond is an eccentric, oddly glamorous affair – in a smiling, nicely geeky sort of way.
Oddball sweetheart Nick Allbrook sways dreamily from side to side; silver-faced, slightly effeminate in his floral kimono and gesticulating like a modern-day Shakespearean actor. To his left their lanky, corkscrew-curled synth man/knob-twiddler Jamie Terry bobs away centre stage (looking eerily akin to something out of Sesame Street), creating noises that fall somewhere between early Doctor Who, the Mysterons and the Acid Queen scene in Ken Russell’s Tommy.
A cover of Brian Eno’s Baby’s On Fire lends classic alt-prog urgency to the set, while audience arms lurch hazily aloft for Sitting Up On Our Crane, a beautifully spacey piece of psychedelic prog-pop to get lost in.
The evening’s colourful trip is brought to a close by Man, It Feels Like Space Again. At first, a spaced-out sprawl, it evolves into something of a modern day alt-pop anthem – complete with swooning hook and blissful blasts. Not psychedelic at all then…