Collarbones X Synergy Percussion: Review


I began my annual love affair with VIVID, Sydney’s cultural calendar epicentre of light/music/idea events with a celebration of The Avalanches (which was really fucking brilliant, by the way). But, as the three-week long festivities came to a close, I attended an event that was a lil less physical and nostalgic but, rather, adult and interesting.

This gig was the collaboration of local, well-loved electronic outfit, Collarbones, and equally important and renowned (albeit to a different age-demographic) Synergy Percussion. The Collarbones duo, dressed ‘Sydney-appropriate’ in oversized ADIDAS and PAM, opened with deep, throbbing low-frequency notes, made by computer, twisted by MOOG.

Their introductory droning beats were soothing and I wholeheartedly welcomed Marcus Whale‘s soulful vocal as it cruised through stanzas about love and sweethearts. I hadn’t seen Collarbones play live before, but, if the show were to continue in this manner without some srs MDMA, a dancefloor or strobes, I might’ve eased myself into the rigid chairs of the Seymour Centre and drifted off. CUE: SYNERGY PERCUSSION! The current three-piece, honouring the outfit that has thrashed/pinged/boomed instruments for forty years, offered their varied percussion expertise to the pretty Collarbones ambient electronica.

Together, the musical collective performed metronome-perfect beats played from route memory. There was no sheet music in sight, just music made from familiarity and intuition. It was really great to see these seasoned performers play with such ease, something that an outfit with less experience or practice could easily have created a real mess with.

For an electronic set, surprisingly the performance was really visual and engaging. With a backdrop of projected primary colours, the Synergy group moved about stage, retaining perfect timing on miniature cymbals as they moved from xylophone duties to drums where they would then play with giant wooden blocks, always keeping the beat. Midway through the set was the particularly beautiful, sonically stripped back number that featured the screeching of numerous violin bows moving across xylophone keys.

Perhaps being on the festival bill alongside the Pet Shop Boys and St. Vincent, and being at the tail-end of the festival, led the gig to rendering a moderate but definitely far-from-sold-out crowd. I left the gig feeling energised and like I had seen something really different to the usual offerings in my harbour city. I only wished for the following modifications of the performance: that it’d have been in the Opera House, that it was a bit louder (chest-rattlingly loud would have been great), and that a hell of a crowd had come and supported this wonderfully creative collaboration.


Collarbones x synergy percussion review by Carol Bowditch