Live Review: Glass Vaults, The Wine Cellar, Auckland, New Zealand

‘Transcendental live show’ is a phrase often used but seldom warranted within music journalism. But last night’s performance by Glass Vaults at the Wine Cellar was a masterclass in it.

Opening act Boycrush is the solo project of Ruby Suns drummer Alistair Deverick, who picked up a NZMA Critics choice nomination last year off the strength of his second EP Girls on Top. His high energy brand of electronic glitch-pop has always been a crowd favourite, so it was a shame to walk in and see the audience with their backs pressed resolutely against the Turkish rug covered wall. But it wasn’t through lack of trying on Boycrush’s part.

Throughout his set he expertly intertwined sweetly angular rhythms with his elegantly sardonic vocals, not even letting technical issues get in the way of delivering some deliciously danceable electro-pop. Boycrush is an understated live performer, which is fine, but given his chosen genre and style, it would have been good to see him embody his sound a little more which may have alleviated the aforementioned problem. Madeira provided vocals for his closing song Flirtwhich this reviewer last heard at the NZMA Critics Choice awards and Madeira appeared to be racked with nerves. That wasn’t the case last night, and although it was wonderful to hear, it was a disjointed end to an otherwise relatively streamlined set.

By this stage, an increasing number of people were pressed around the outskirts of the room as they awaited the headlining act. Since 2010 Glass Vaults’ Richard Larsen and Rowan Pierce have amassed a loyal fanbase  thanks to the release of a series of singles and three glorious EPs; Glass (2010), Into the Clear (2011) and Bright (2013). Last year they released their gem of a debut Sojourn, which was nominated for a 2016 Taite Music prize.

Long-time listeners of the band are enamoured with the way that Glass Vaults built walls of sound that are awash with glittering sepia soaked guitar. It is music that is to be felt and heard at frequencies that vibrate your very being. It is music that ebbs and flows, twists and collides with a delicate grace and joyful abandon, so to hear it performed with equal passion live was truly special. The rest of the audience appeared unmoved, nodding appreciatively with their arms folded, aside from one lone dancer covered in body glitter artfully slipping up the front in his slightly oversized Chuck Taylors.

But two songs in, something quite remarkable happened.

A young woman draped in black dashed out from the crowd and threw talcum powder on the ground and began dancing with him, twirling her hands along to the rhythm of West Coast. “Like Tinkerbell at a rave” my friend observed. One by one, the audience members became enchanted by the air that was a heady mix of lilacs and pretty distortion. A kaleidoscopic reworking of Sacred Heartundoubtedly added to the fervour. New songs blended seamlessly with established ones, and by the time their last song Brooklyn “inspired by the Fruju ad when they are in the boat” came on, everyone was in raptures, beaming as they swayed as one. The evening ended with a stirring rendition of Ancient Gates.

Both Boycrush and Glass Vaults are great examples of the level of talent we have within the unsigned scene in New Zealand. Their commitment to their craft is obvious and should be supported. An elative night out.

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