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Triple-header tour rotates with Skyharbor at the helm

Skyharbor Sleepmakeswaves Tides From Nebula poster

Tours usually have a hierarchy, so that tonight’s show is billed as a triple-header is something of a rarity. Obviously you can’t have all three bands out at once, so they’ve been working on a rotation.

Tonight’s opening slot falls to Tides From Nebula. An prior opening set supporting After The Burial with Monuments and Circles last year at this same venue was well received by many. It seems that wasn’t a one-off - they are blown away by the size of the early crowd and its positive response to them. They’ve plenty of character and good feeling runs amok – throughout the set the band keep holding their guitars up to the ceiling, as though to throw them, but after realising that the roof is very low, it becomes a kind of running joke.

Their huge, expansive, pompously-decorated space-drone-rock keeps you wondering if you’ll get bored by the next tune, but they keep producing riff after interesting riff. They create a thick and unctuous atmosphere, fusing reminiscence and longing together in elongated and lustrous soundscapes. There’s a strong feeling of ”in outer space, no-one can hear your heart break” that pervades their entire set.

The only sticking point is their drummer. He’s adequate coping with the material, but there’s little of real interest in terms of fills or stretched phrasing. Still, there’s some very engaging use of effects across the board, from him included.

- John

Second up are Aussies sleepmakeswaves. I’ve had zero exposure to the quartet before this evening, but I’m almost immediately blown away. Like a more rock-oriented This Will Destroy You, drummer Tim Adderley bangs away heavily on his toms, creating palpable groove, on top of which Alex Wilson’s delay-tinged bass wobbles and trembles. Guitars build with deceptively lazy precision, and you don’t quite realise what it is they’re building to until you’re smashed around the face with driven leads. It’s not often you feel like crowd surfing to post-rock, but this is an exception.

The opening to the third or fourth song is tinged with a hint of 65daysofstatic, with scratchy electronics being stabbed by massive chords. Delayed leads float around, lending a deft dichotomy to the track. Wilson switches to keys for a track from their latest album Love Of Cartography, and it adds nice extra texture to their sound. The song immediately after starts out doomy and dischordant. It’s uncomfortable and riveting, and the variety keeps things interesting right up until the triumphant close of their set.

Skyharbor certainly have a job to do following them, but they’re no longer the greenhorns they once were, even with drummer Anup Sastry absent – stand in drummer Aditya Ashok is well chosen and plays with precision and the necessary nuance – especially on the band’s newer tracks. The set is constructed almost entirely from Guiding Lights material – which to borrow a phrase is “not quite my tempo” – but when it’s played this well it’s hard to argue. Less riff-orientated, it’s instead constructed from rhythm and atmosphere, which is recreated in abundance.

Sole Blinding White Noise track “Celestial”, played towards the end of the show, is an absolute joy though, and it’s a nice counterpoint to the more emotionally resonant material.

Frontman Dan Tompkins is keen to impress upon people that this indeed a rotating headline tour, and with everyone having travelled from so far to be here, this is a nice touch. Cementing this notion, there’s no encore, but  As the only band with vocals, there’s perhaps a little more to interest most – instrumental music is not for all – but the evening has encompassed a range of emotions and modes of doing so – the tour’s “The Feel Trip” title is well deserved” – and it was clearly more than worth the ticket price. Miss any of these bands at your peril.

- Chris

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