LIVE REVIEW: ALPINE, Thursday May 30, The Hi-Fi.

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Originally published in Beat Magazine.

 

Just like Phoebe and Lou’s complementary outfits, the charm of Alpine had not changed since their album launch performance at the Corner last year. Dazzling on stage, Phoebe Baker and Lou James are as iconic as their jumpsuits. When watching these front women live, it is easy to forget that Alpine also encompass four other members, the masters of the collective’s bright indie-pop instrumentation. The four guys, although wonderful, are easily pushed into the background by the dominant stage prowess of Phoebe and Lou. Fusing honeyed harmonies with alternative dance, these two were magical throughout their farewell performance at The Hi Fi. Opening with Lovers 1 and 2, Alpine immediately had their audience enthralled. The minimalism of both tracks was a perfect prelude to the performance, showcasing the subtleties in the boys’ repertoire and the vocal dexterity of the girls. While Lou’s movements were more controlled, Phoebe was slightly manic in her expression. This dichotomy of body language remained consistent throughout the entire performance. Next was Hands, one of the heavier tracks off their debut album. This was when the audience started to notice the bass player, Ryan Lamb. He gave such an impassioned performance in this song, that at one point, he nearly knocked Lou out with the neck of his guitar. By the conclusion, he had become part of the foreground which had initially been for Phoebe and Lou. He only become more energetic as the show continued, his grey t-shirt soaked through. Alpine performed other favourites including Seeing Red, Too Safe and In The Wild. The latter was a fun track, both girls responding with vehemence to the fast tempo. The guitar riffs and key changes were flawless. While Lou stayed centred, Phoebe would continually dance right at the edge of the stage, her bare feet almost touching the faces of her devoted fans beneath. Alpine finished with Gasoline, a song that made everyone scream with delight. As soon as the audience heard those familiar riffs, that was it. We had become eternal slaves to the music. Just like Phoebe and Lou, our dancing became vigorous. Phil Tucker, the drummer, finally let loose, his face contorted with strain and enlightenment. Both Christian O’Brien and Tim Royall, guitarist and keyboardist respectively, looked disinterested throughout the entire set, their inscrutable faces incongruent with the rest of the expressive musicians. Alpine then left the stage briefly, only to come back and play Softsides, followed by Villages. The final song was the best. Opening with mellow vocals and a soft instrumentation and then immediately morphing into a heavy rock chorus personified the diversity of Alpine; their ability to switch between minimal and aggressive beats. The entire band went nuts, the stage a sea of flailing limbs and instruments. While Lou jumped up and down in her original position, Phoebe grabbed the hands of the crowd and then lay down, her head upside down as she sang to her fans, some of them pulling at her face and hair. It was inspired and innovative, an uninhibited frenzy of movement. No doubt both girls had a background in performing arts, their expressions always theatrical. As the crowd cheered and wished them luck on their US tour, Alpine graciously bid farewell and exited the stage.

 

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