Close Counters // The Night Cat, Melbourne // Friday, September 6

What a year it has been for Close Counters. Years of hard work are beginning to pay off with Melbourne-based producers Allan McConnell and Finn Rees continuing on from their breakthrough 2018. This year has seen the Tassie pair release more music and play countless live shows across the country. Real momentum for the Close Counters project has been generated, resulting in the boys hosting their biggest run of headline shows to date.

Fresh off of Brisbane’s Big Sound and Sydney, the next stop on the tour was Melbourne’s notorious Night Cat, a venue that allows artists to push their live performance to a new level with its 360-degree arena setup.

On this tour, the two have been able to handpick some of their favourite local acts to support them. Zobi Wan and Moses Carr kicked off the night with some tremendous sets, laying the foundation for the main set at midnight.

In an interview earlier in the year, Finn and Allan expressed their eagerness to add live instrumentation to their performance. Publicising before the tour that frequent collaborator Lucky Pereira was being recruited on the drum kit for the tour was incredibly exciting news. Seeing Pereira on the percussion in March with the pair at the Penny Black, I was keen to see what he could do behind a full drum set.

As the trio started with fresh releases ‘HEY!!!’ and ‘Tip of My Tongue’, Pereira made his presence immediately known crashing down insane drumming sequences to get the energy cranked.

Allan spoke before of the long hours the three put in to get this tour together. This was emphasised as they dug deep into large jazz infused improvisation and bouncing funk rhythms. The chemistry was undeniable. All were in smooth sync as they upped the tempo, delving into many of the favourite Soulacoasta mixtape jams.

Feverish in movement already, fans were treated to the most surprising and welcoming of collaborations. Maggie Zhu awed the crowd as she was invited on stage to interpretive dance during Fire Dance and Third Gear, two relentless tracks bursting full of energy that go hand-in-hand as they seamlessly transition from one to the other. The wonderful Allysha Joy took the spotlight on vocals for Bespoke, an upcoming track from the new Refractions EP set to be released in a couple weeks. Finally, Jim ALXNDR charmed the crowd on the saxophone for another unreleased track, this time a remix of How Long by Bag Raiders before bringing the house down during Soulacoasta.

In a night that could have been just about Finn and Allan, they exhibited their notable levels of humbleness. Between each guest appearance the duo ensured the limelight was shared as time was made to welcome and thank everyone that performed and came along for the evening. This added a wholesome touch to the Night Cat setting with returning fans and fresh ears being encouraged to be open and fun resulting in everyone dancing with both strangers and friends.

When seeing Close Counters perform you can’t help but see how much they love what they’re doing. Passion is infectious. When artists performing on stage are visibly enjoying themselves and bobbing their head to the beat this is absorbed by the crowd.

The spritely up-beat tempo and constant groove these guys bring to the table has the ability to latch onto wider audiences. It’s only a matter of time until more are treating themselves to this fine mix of jazz and electronic music.

To catch the fellas on the rest of their tour, the Refractions EP Tour dates are below:

Tuesday September 3 - Family (Big Sound) - Brisbane

Wednesday September 4 - Wooly Mammoth (Big Sound) - Brisbane

Thursday September 5 - Freda's - Sydney

Friday September 6 - The Night Cat - Melbourne

Saturday September 7 - Rocket Bar - Adelaide

Friday September 13 - Tusk - Wollongong

Friday September 20 - Hobart Brewing Co - Hobart

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