Sharing a joint bill promoting both bands’ debut EPs, local Welly lads Same Name Confusion and Dunedin’s latest export, Lacuna, decided to bring their maiden tour of the country to the beloved confines of San Fran. With another local indie upstart supporting, Stink, the gig felt more like a homecoming, however, with the focus undoubtedly on celebrating just how far Same Name Confusion has come.
Despite having very little music currently available, Stink have clearly already started developing a name for themselves locally, as verified by the small but bustling crowd gathered for their set. And it’s easy to see why. The quartet refused to be pigeonholed, shifting their dynamic from blissful, meticulous indie to jauntier numbers, not unlike something Animal Collective may have once put out. Their recent single Lollipops is a highlight, an airy psych-pop track that sees keyboardist Tiare Kelly take the vocal lead.
Sharing singing duties between the bassist, guitarist and keyboardist, a natural fluidity to their performance allowed the band to flit between styles, albeit to varying degrees of success. Stink proved there’s much to be optimistic about, however, showing an ease on stage that warranted the growing audience.
A combination of fans/friends/family of the two headliners turning up and an increasing number of random punters walking through the door meant that by the time the playlist was stopped over the PA and Lacuna had taken to the stage, the band were looking out upon a notably larger crowd than Stink.
Where our previous hosts were aiming for a jig in response to their music, Lacuna were looking for a slightly different kind of vibe. Running through heir arsenal of indie-soul tunes the band caveated songs with explanations including how they were written about “wanting to touch someone you shouldn’t”, with instructions to “find a cutie”. The allure went further than the chat between tracks and Lacuna’s slow, evocative sound made it hard to look anywhere other than straight at the stage.
Hypnotic at best, the trio were also surprisingly tight considering they are yet to post any music online, resulting in a gentle ebb and flow between band and crowd.
By the time Same Name Confusion started taking to the stage, San Fran was absolutely packed, and the rise in anticipation among the audience was palpable. As some fans continued trying to negotiate their way closer to the front vocalist Luke Courtney slowly made his way on stage, guitar around his waist, glaring into the darkness. The notable sense of disdain was not only totally different to the bands seen so far, but also seemingly at odds with their sound on record.
Their January release and the EP the tour was promoting, ‘In Theory’, was a delightful combination of indie-pop tunes, epitomised by Courtney’s falsetto and twinkling guitar segments. Following on from several previous singles, it pitches Same Name Confusion as connoisseurs of chill. A notion the band, and their fans, were clearly prepared to dispel.
Opening with ‘In Theory’’s first track, Must Be Lucky, Courtney continued to prowl with an air of contempt more fitting at a punk gig. Out ahead of the rest of the band, he set the tone of the evening as the song evolved from a singular beat into a fully-fledged outing. Courtney has previously stated the intended difference between listening to Same Name Confusion live and listening to them on record – and the striking dichotomy between the relative bliss of the band’s music on paper and the intensity of it live was the bedrock of their performance all evening.
Tracks including In Theory, highlight (David) What Are You Afraid Of? and closer My Plastic Baby were manipulated to add a sense of aggression to their sound, gaining a feral aesthetic primed to send San Fran wild.
And wild San Fran went. Whenever a potential sing-along cropped up, they screamed it. When Courtney hung off of one of the ceiling’s beams, they whooped in delight. When he took five and left bad member Andrej Radosavljevic and the others to hold the fort, they continued to shout along and ensure his presence wasn’t missed.
His return, with fan in hand (the lively performances and bulging crowd meant things were getting pretty warm), was welcomed ecstatically. There was a discernible synergy between audience and band, one feeding off of the other, that drove both parties wilder and wilder as the evening wore on.
As the crowd gradually dispersed following the encore of My Plastic Baby, one thing became abundantly clear; the show was about one thing only, and that was watching these Welly boys bring their live rock format back home. Even when the band chucked in a cover of Nirvana’s classic Lithium, it didn’t sound any heavier or get any better reception from the crowd. The audience was well prepped and knew the words all evening, putting in a jubilant display of their own celebrating the return of a loved local act.