There are very few ways to impress music listeners anymore. It's all pretty much been heard and done before. But with the troika of performances that took place on October 5th at Bowery Ballroom, new life was breathed into the category of live acts.
Austra's lead vocalist, Katie Stelmanis, is nothing if not extremely meticulous when it comes to her craft. In choosing the opening bands of Lydia and Light Asylum, it was instantly clear that Stelmanis knows what she wants--theatricality and balls out unabashedness. Lydia consisted of an eight-piece band featuring two interpretive dancers that kept the crowd mesmerized and entertained. Counteracting this demure and stately conception was Light Asylum, helmed by the incredibly distinctive and androgynous Shannon Funchess. Among other topics, Funchess mentioned the ridiculousness of protesters being arrested for participating in Occupy Wall Street. Her dance moves, however, were much too amazingly distracting to pay attention to any kind of political message she had to give.
Austra took the stage soon after, opening with the ever so dramatic "The Beast." Unlike most bands, Austra doesn't give a fuck about commencing a show with a crowd-pleasing, upbeat song--though they did sing their hit, "Lose It," the third song in. The backup twin singers, Sari and Romy Lightman, were also in full effect with outfits that showcased looks from the 1920s and the 1980s (one rocked a beaded dress and the other an intimidating set of shoulder pads, to be specific).
Stelmanis, usually one to let the music speak for itself, became rather chatty toward the end of the performance, calling herself an asshole for not sooner acknowledging the birthdays of Sari and Romy, who quipped, "You only turn eighteen once." Apart from leaving out their covers of Roy Orbison's "Crying" and The Strokes' "Alone, Together," there was absolutely nothing left to be desired from this show--particularly the stoic keyboard stylings of Ryan Wosniak. Behind the Hype has a hunch that this is merely the beginning of Austra's on-point, anti-bland concerts.