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Live Review: Oliver Tank, Feb 15 @ The Metro

Words by Scenewave Australia - Published on February 19, 2014

Oliver Tank played at the Metro last weekend. I was pretty excited because I’ve been following his progress for a couple years now, and this was  his first headline tour.

It was…. Okay.

I’ve seen the bushy-hair Sydneysider a few times before – OutisdeIn Festival 2012, FBi Turns 10! 2013 and Falls Festival Byron Bay, ‘13/’14. Unfortunately this was my least favourite of those times.

Maybe it was that I wasn’t lying in a field at 11 am on a sunny day. Maybe he just wasn’t used to playing to a crowd who were there specifically to see him. I don’t know exactly, but it certainly wasn’t breathtaking or memorable.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t awful. Oliver has a wonderful and unique sound which mixes mellow electronic beats with a rich vocal tone and some great guitar work- which, to my absolute delight, was live. But he didn’t demand my attention – neither myself nor the crowd seemed engaged throughout. The people around me were talking among themselves the entire time, as though he was background music.

It’s not that he hasn’t got stage presence.  He really seemed the capture the audience and the vibe of each other event I’ve seen him perform at. It seemed different this time, though. He didn’t draw us in, he didn’t speak to us or make eye contact with the audience. And while this isn’t a necessity, it felt like he barely even acknowledged that there was even a crowd there.

When I spoke to Tank recently, he told me that he had never played a venue as big as The Metro before, so I’m going attributing the problems to nerves or being overwhelmed. I hope that he finds his feet before the end of the tour.

The set itself was fine. We mostly heard tracks from his latest EP, Slow Motion Music including triple j favourite Different Speeds ft. Ta-ku. He also played some of his covers, Beautiful/Drop It Like It’s Hot (Snoop Dogg), Sound of Silence (Simon and Garfunkel) Blackbird (The Beatles) etc. These were all really cool, he’s got a knack for covers.

There was no ebb and flow, no ups and downs.  It just happened. At some points you couldn’t tell whether a track had ended and a new one had started. The pace didn’t pick up at any point though, so we sort of lazily swayed about throughout the set. The crowd really only danced during the Snoop Dogg cover, which was the final track of the night.

For some reason, this girl came out to sing and play some flute on a couple tracks. Her voice was lovely, but the flute playing was terrible. It couldn’t have been more out of tune if she’s tried. I’ve tried and I really can’t put it any nicer than this. Tank, if you ever read this – take it from someone who has been a flautist for 17 years – don’t get her to play with you again. (Apologies in advance if it’s your girlfriend.)

Overall, and I really hate writing this, I was disappointed. I’ve loved his sets in the past, but this one missed the mark. It was forgettable, predictable and flat. Maybe it’ll be better once he’s had some more non-festival experiences.

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