Lion Island @ The Zoo
Recently Brisbane has been going through a brief cold snap; as in you find yourself thinking, "it is cold" rather than "people are no longer dropping dead in the street from heat exhaustion, have the seasons changed?" Thus it is fitting that one of Brisbane's most heart-warming bands, Lion Island, have embarked on a series of live shows.
Lion Island can perhaps best be described as an indie-folk band with nine members playing gypsy instruments, or maybe early Arcade Fire meets Beirut. So, anyway, this review should perhaps be prefixed by the fact that to stave off the cold I had consumed a delicious mixture of homebrand "orange-mango fruit drink" and the cheapest vodka money can buy, and thus was feeling particularly jovial by the time I arrived at The Zoo.
After a quick inspection of the merch table (featuring adorable hand sewn "Lion Island" insignia patches, this was some K Records shit) the seemingly endless members of the band streamed on stage with synchronised handclaps. The most immediately striking thing was the sheer audibility of each instrument. Rather than create a wall of noise with their considerable number, violin weaved in and out of Irish bouzouki and ukulele was somehow omnipresent. However at times the nine members do make their presence known, with backing vocals that stir up the same collective consciousness that probably got communism to work for a while. The "da-da da da's" at the end of Berlin were the closest to a giant musical group hug I have ever heard.
Perhaps the best thing of the night was seeing a band who were actually "having fun" rather than either being aloof or taking the whole playing music thing extremely seriously. I overheard someone say of one band member "when she's not playing the trumpet, she's playing the smile". How many times do you hear that at a local show not featuring Casio keyboards?
Truthfully, rather than standing there admiring the instrumentation and the crooning vocals of the extremely frontmanesque frontman Matt, I was feeling things, hell I was happy. Towards the end of the show, during one of the livelier numbers the bouzouki player descended from the heavens to dance with us mere mortals, which was kind of awkward and kind of awesome.
Lion Island finished things off with I'll Take You Down, featuring a kind of raise your beer in the air sing-along. It's a rare thing for Brisbane's seasoned hipsters to non-ironically break character and "get down", however briefly, but I saw it dear reader and maybe one day you will too. Overall Lion Island seem destined to be a Brisbane live staple and it's not hard to imagine them on festival stages in the future.