Tora // The Corner Hotel, Melbourne // Thursday, February 20 // Live Review

Photography: Jumila Ashton - @jumilashton

On a cool Melbourne Thursday night dreamy electronic quartet Tora brought the good vibes, and their limited-edition Mullumbimby hot sauce, from Byron down to the Corner Hotel.

It was tough to pick out the crowd as we waited for the curtains to draw open. There was a diverse mixture of all age levels from alternative types to those coming from after work drinks.

Something that really stood out was the amount of people that came on their own. It can be daunting thinking about attending a gig by yourself, this just salutes the appeal Tora has with many braving it out to see them play. Whoever was in charge of the interval music deserves a huge pat on the back recognising the audience mood with their fine selection of Frank Ocean’s Nights proving a real winner.

Having never heard Tora live I wasn’t sure what I was in for. Being such a great band to chill out to when you’re at home I was intrigued to see how that would be brought into a live setting.

Entering with lasers beaming beautiful patterns across the ceiling and walls they would have no problem bringing their ethereal soundscape to the bandroom.

The Corner Hotel can be a difficult venue to deliver visuals with its small stage, low ceiling and large pillars across the floor. Using the resources well, Tora brought about a pallet of colours to the bandroom as they reflected off the centre mirror ball during Deviate. Seeing this naturally brought so many smiles to fans’ faces, even frontman Jo Lowenthal had to point it out.

Playing with live instruments at their shows it was a terrific surprise to see how interactive and dancey Tora were. The band don’t take themselves too seriously grooving around in a weird way that only encourages more crowd engagement. You could tell Shaun Johnston on bass was comfortable on stage as he joked around with the lighting team if he got blinded and collected polaroid shots from fans at the front during their songs.

Between the chilling vocals of Lowenthal during songs like Paramount and Too Much the boys would provide insane kicks that rippled through everyone’s bodies with energies that would tear up any dancefloor in the world during tracks Morphine and Another Case. The crowd ate this up only giving more confidence to the 4-piece as the show went on.

Looking afar at the Tora project it’s easy to compare their situation to another Byron Bay export Parcels. The band has a sound that would as well thrive in the European scene with the Berlin-based quintet. Tora are a band that should be able to fill out much larger and grander concert halls. Staying in Australia would be a step back for the group. Taking a big leap and moving to Europe could progress their sound and reach to a whole new level.

After Amsterdam they announced that these thoughts were mutual within the band with a move to the Netherlands happening in the next week. This revelation was received to the same enthusiastic applause as the entire evening.

Although it’s sad for us Australian fans of the indefinite period we’ll have without our beloved Byron boys, it’s clear that this is the right call to make. As Lowenthal said to the crowd, with nights like Thursday night we've given them a pretty f*cking good reason to come back.

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