Day 2 of Tokyo’s HOSTESS CLUB WEEKENDER, and Toronto’s electro wonders AUSTRA play the opening slot, warming up a seemingly weary Sunday afternoon audience with their moving and passionate performance.
Forming in 2009, Austra skyrocketed to fame after releasing their smashout first album Feel It Break, paving the way for them to enjoy worldwide attention which now allows them to take their music around the world. As a result, the group has been travelling extensively the past year, with massive tours spanning from Europe to North America.
Their second offering Olympia was released earlier this year, and while sporting a notably different sound to their original record’s melodies, it has received mixed-to-warm reviews from critics and fans alike. Operating currently as a foursome rather than the six-piece we have become familiar with (sister duo Sari and Romy Lightman are taking time out to focus on their own project TASSEOMANCY), amid industry debate over the band’s direction, Austra continue to raise the bar in musicianship and commitment. From what we gathered in Manchester and London during their UK tour, the four-piece format is working, though some of the original raw energy is certainly lacking, most likely attributable to the killer pace at which they are zooming from city to city and the exhaustion and backstage tension which any band under such pressure is bound to suffer.
They’re performing in Asia for the first time, now taking on the Japanese capital city, having just nailed Hong Kong.
The crowd is predictably quiet and attentive while they play their set, a 1pm timeslot not being particularly conducive to a rowdy and responsive audience, least of all in ever-respectful Japan. The show comprises of a hearty serving of their latest tracks from Olympia, as well as older favourites, and frontwoman Katie Stelmanis captivates the enraptured audience with her flamboyant gestures and stunning vocals (upon attempting to exit the packed hall after their set wraps up, a scan of the crowd reveals fans – boys and girls alike – mimicking Katie’s avant-garde gesticulations).
Brilliantly talented drummer and programmer Maya Postepski is the unfaltering metronome for the set, the foundation on top of which the group layers their soulful electro sounds, with Dorian Wolf on bass and Ryan Wonsiak on keys. Though absent this time, the Lightman twins will rejoin them for their final date of the year in Bangkok which comes a week after Tokyo.
Japanese fans are left in awe of Austra’s captivating performance, and no doubt will wait with bated breath for their next Asia tour.