Melbourne Music Week's Kubik venue. Pic: Portia Conyers-East

Music, Reviews

Kllo, Baths, LUCIANBLOMKAMP + Lonelyspeck review (Melbourne Music Week)

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Following an extensive international tour, Melbourne electro-pop outfit Kllo returned home on Tuesday, new single Back to You in tow, to perform for Melbourne Music Week (MMW).

Melbourne-based record label and music managers Good Manners curated a program that saw Kllo’s label and electronica comrades Lonelyspeck, LUCIANBLOMKAMP and Baths act as more than just support acts. All three producers became an integral part of an evening that nurtured an atmosphere of niche, smooth electronica.

The MMW hub in Alexandra Gardens, known as Kubik, played host to the line up, with interchanging fluorescent pink, purple, blue and red neon cubes encompassing a somewhat humble stage. Melbourne’s cityscape twinkled in the background.

The crowd on the evening was seemingly docile, perhaps because it was a Tuesday night or because the acts performing entertained a certain type of listener: those who appreciate mellow-electronica; a genre that offers wistful lyricism, soothing vocals and melodies that eb and flow between a pop-sing-along, underground techno and chill wave.

American producer Will Wiesenfeld (AKA Baths) was a welcome surprise for locals, as he possesses quite the reputation among fans of beat-heavy chill wave. The openly gay musician has developed a cult pop culture following, partly thanks to his work on the theme song for viral video game Dream Daddy: a Dad Dating Simulator (whereby you play as a dad seeking to romance other hot-dad neighbours).

The relaxed atmosphere made the evening all that more enjoyable. No one was rushing to get a spot in the crowd, everyone was moseying with no particular agenda.

Performing his 40-minute set at 10pm, it’s safe to say fans were very engaged – not just by his music, but his presence. As one Twitter user (@hieronymusbutch) put it: “tysm @BATHSmusic for not only a very hot set but also the hot muscle tee representation the Melbourne gays need”.

The producer also made audience members shout “gay” and told them “if you see queer people here tonight, you should buy them a drink”.

With attendees sufficiently amped up thanks to Baths’ queer-inclusive cleansing ceremony, crowds mingled around wooden-crate seats and gas heaters between sets. The relaxed atmosphere made the evening all that more enjoyable. No one was rushing to get a spot in the crowd, everyone was moseying with no particular agenda.

Just before 11pm, the small crowd meandered through Kubik’s cubes and set themselves up for the headliner. The Australian duo Kllo, made up of producer Simon Lam and vocalist Chloe Kaul, juxtapose electro-pop beats with soothing vocal harmonies and yearning song writing. 

Kllo are a refreshing addition to the electronic scene, mixing UK Garage, early 2000s, old-school R&B and chill wave all into one. However, it’s Kaul’s voice – akin to a serenading Siren in the Greek mythological sense, luring listeners in and creating a hypnotic atmosphere – combined with Lam’s moving synth mixes that make them so enticing. Together, Kllo make music that is just as easy to dance to as it is to sway to, and ponder.

Their 2018 single Candid opened the set, a contemplative piece of electro-pop that is exactly what its name suggests. The duo then jumped between tracks from their 2016 album Well Worn and 2017 album Backwater, before dropping their 2019 single Back to You.

The duo dabbled with a slower melody than usual for Back to You, but countered this with more hopeful lyrics than usual. Even though the track was only released on October 16, fans were already well versed in the new single, sending their praises to the band members by way of supportive cheers.

Fan favourite Virtue closed off the evening. The bouncing drum and synth hook behind lyrics “Can I count on you?” prompted a final blissful boogie from KLLO’s home-town fans on what turned out to be a laid-back Tuesday evening that celebrated both home-grown talent and refreshing new sounds.

Kllo, Baths, LUCIANBLOMKAMP and Lonelyspeck played Melbourne Music Week’s Kubik Tuesday November 19.

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