On Sunday night, Intrepid Theatre played host to an intimate congregation of Victoria’s local bands, celebrating the release of San Felix’s new release, The Fire Island EP. The sold-out evening – which started off with Bodies, followed closely by punk rockers 222, and then Winston Wolfe as the lead up to the headlining San Felix – was crammed into the sardine can of a theatre which easily facilitated heat and dialogue exchanges between members of the audience and the performers.
The small stage was decorated with some strobing, psychedelic sea-fans and an original x-box where you could play Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater in between sets, if you didn’t need to step outside to wring out your t-shirt. Despite being incredibly hot, the small venue proved to be a sound man’s wet dream. Every band sounded fantastic on stage. Bodies’ drummer in particular was well matched to the space, and his quick drum hits and pummelling rolls crashed into the audience with each song. The bassists, often the forgotten band member, also came off sounding incredibly punchy in each set.
The diverse styles of music offered by each act kept the night moving quickly. The contrast of Bodies’ glittery and clean bedroom pop to the much harder and aggressive punk rock of 222 was a refreshing and adrenaline pumping change of pace before dropping into the much anticipated and aquatic pop sounds of San Felix.
Well aware of the audience’s anticipation, San Felix sought to draw it out a little further with a tense and mood building first song. The lead guitarist engaged the audience jokingly by telling them directly to “wait a minute” before the full stop in “Elderberry,” which immediately drew everyone deeper into the troughs and swells of their music. Their sound embellishments with heavy distortion and synthesizers – played by the human swiss army knife, Brett Frankson – gives their sound a wide and dynamic emotional range. They also used an expert and sudden tempo-change on their performance of “The Day of the Rat” that took everyone by surprise before the song dropped back into its sunburnt ¾ voyage.
They weren’t without their pitfalls though. At some points, especially in the first couple of tracks, the vocal harmonies felt weak and timid. “35 Hours” was also very cluttered, making it hard to hear each of the instruments.
“I Was a Vulture,” the EP’s single, closed out the night. The steady groove of this song was brought to life even more fully than on the EP, and it was warmly received by the physically humid and enthusiastic audience. In this venue, San Felix was easily able to give a full body experience of what a Fire Island would feel and sound like.