Timberwolf is one of the rising stars of a resurgent South Australian music scene along with Tkay Maidza, Jesse Davidson and expat Allday, and nothing exemplified his rise from obscurity to local success better than his a packed out UniBar performance.
Opening act, SKIES, part of the Young Muscle stable, shares a member with the headliner but are an excellent live act in their own right. With poppy anthems, this group’s performance far outshone the main support Stonefox with their cross electronica-pop music. Whilst in no way derivative, this act could be the closest Adelaide has to a Chet Faker, albeit with a bigger live band presence. With good hooks and a strong live sound and fantastic vocals from Dusty Lee Stephenson, SKIES will continue to rise in profile within SA and perhaps beyond our borders.
The night’s biggest disappointment was touring support Stonefox. With a less than polished live set, a hollow rhythm section with either weak drums or bad mixing shows the act need to tweak some things if they are too impress more punters. There was absolutely no applause after the first song, which, given the packed house, which was a less than promising sign. The guitars were too far down in the mix the entire time, but the one redeeming quality was the sincere, emotive vocals for the lead singer. With experience Stonefox will definitely improve, but given the lack of a bass player, the quality of the mix and the arrangements may determine their popularity.
By contrast, the Timberwolf live show had a fantastic build up with good ambient guitar sounds and great use of warm yellow lighting. When the full band sound kicked in, the live mix was huge, verging on epic with a pumping rhythm section, clear back up vocals and well-mixed keys a guitar. The fantastic harmonies between the singer, bassist and backing vocalists were on par with Boy and Bear and almost reminiscent of Fleet Foxes. Singer Chris Panousakis oozes confidence on stage, and whilst some of his comments were perhaps a little disingenuous for some punters, as a singer the microphone just sucks up his tone. Whether hitting the high notes or more gravelly louder parts, his range not only covers it, but really do his songs justice.
While rocky upbeat single Whiskey Jar was played with a lot of enthusiasm and gusto, the slower more ambient tracks with the rich harmonies definitely stood out the most, particularly in the first half of the set. The more the strong melodies and flowing harmonies can reach radio listeners, the greater Timberwolf’s star will rise. Whether he will ever have the single for steady long term radio play will remain to be seen but Chris and his band will continue to pack out venues on the back of fantastic live shows and the influential word-of-mouth that comes with it. Perhaps Adelaide’s premier live act this year.
Review by Gavin De Almeida