If Boy & Bear are the band that I should love and don’t, then The Temper Trap are the band I shouldn’t but kinda’ do. Maybe it’s patriotism, maybe it’s lower expectation but there is just something about this indie-pop band that keeps surprising me.
I was introduced to The Temper Trap at this same venue (on the small stage) back in June 2009 when they opened for the Silversun Pickups. They came out fast, loud and with an impressive light show for a support band. Dougy Mandagi’s falsetto vocals and high energy had grabbed everyone’s attention and after two songs he announced the band name and that they were from Melbourne Australia. As the only Aussie in our group that night everyone looked to me like I should I have known this fact?
Super impressed by their set, I headed home to do some research and quickly purchased their debut album, Conditions. I listened to it quite a bit for a while but it was probably a little bit too much on the ‘polished-pop’ end of the indie-music scale to ever become a favourite. However the band kept popping up over and over again, most notably on the (500) Days of Summer soundtrack, but also a variety of television shows and commercials.
And perhaps that’s where the patriotism comes into play. At the end of the day I love to see the little Aussie battler make a go of it and these guys certainly weren’t giving our music scene a bad name, even if it wasn’t my favourite album.
So 3 years later and I found myself back at the Melkweg, although this time on the main stage, with a sold out crowd to see them at their own show. This time they had a local Dutch band, Color Ones, supporting them and unfortunately I can’t report the same enthusiasm. They were fun, with some catchy foot-tapping numbers and they did their job well, but it was nothing I hadn’t heard before.
The Temper Trap hit the stage to an even more impressive light show than last time and there was no doubt they had done this more than once. It was a well orchestrated and very tight opening few songs, all from the new album. An album which I had not really listened to, so my pre-show expectation had been reasonably low, which was just as well as I struggled through the first part of the set. The new songs seem even more on the polished-pop side of things and I was starting to get worried. But as soon as they went into some older numbers the crowd went crown went crazy and the spark was back.
The TT sound is a tough one to stereotype or pigeonhole. While Mandagi’s falsetto is certainly part of their trademark, it seems to be used less in the new album and likewise a lot of Conditionsguitar parts seem to have been replaced with keyboard/synth sounds on the newer songs. At the end of the day, the songs are predominately fast past, catchy pop songs about love, loss and life. It’s not new ground but they pull it off.
The longer the show went the more I enjoyed myself and there is no doubt these guys know how to put on a fine live show. The finished the main set with a great all-in jam, with the light show getting more and more intense. Dougy pounding on his single tom-tom drum, covered in water which sprayed into the air and looked amazing in the strobe lighting.
It was by no means a long set, but they played everything the crowd wanted to hear including a great version of Sweet Disposition for the final song of the encore. They will never be my favourite band but there is something about them that I can’t help but love. Maybe between these guys and the likes of Gotye and Cut Copy we have a new generation to do us proud on the international music stage.