The dynamics of ‘bands’ are an intriguing business. Bands should be a friendship group, a clique that you want to be a part of. They should feel like a family (and obviously some literally are) who bounce off each other, possessing a beautiful musical synergy. There should be a clear symbiotic relationship off stage which is reflected by the music played on stage. The best live experiences you can have from watching bands are where you can feel, and see, that music synergy in motion. It creates a communal, warm, joyous feeling when it’s apparent that they all enjoy each other's company in the sense of watching friends having fun together. It makes it all the more accessible whilst mirroring our own real life platonic relationships. Of course, there are lots of great bands who do not particularly like each other and create great music, but this translates to a subtle lack of spark when the music is then placed in a live setting.
Luckily, The Internet are a band who are clearly very close. The group origins rest within the mythology of Odd Future and it’s ringleader Tyler the Creator, one of the most influential artists of the last decade. Founded by Syd and Matt Martians, both close teenage friends with Tyler and part of Odd Future, their first release Purple Naked Ladies audibly echoed the sound that Tyler had created to a fault, resulting in a messy and muddled record. The group then expanded to include previously exclusive touring members Patrick Paige II (bass), Christopher Smith (drums) and Jameel Bruner (keyboard) which resulted in Feel Good, a well crafted set of bright, neo-soul songs which had much more focus and cohesion. Steve Lacy (guitar) later joined through his friendship with Bruner, bringing with him an incredible production talent which made The Internet’s sound fuller and more psychedelic. 2015’s Ego Death was a beautifully sublime album which played to each of the band members’ strength, with the group now sonically fully formed and stronger than ever. They could do romantic very well, evoking the ethereal power of summer love, but they were also weird and goofy as well with much bravado and forthcomingness on display for good measure. A hiatus came, with Bruner leaving the group completely and all members releasing solo projects, with the music produced from this time emphasising each member's individual talent and honing of their craft.
Syd and Steve Lacy have become increasingly large figures in the music industry with all this raising much anticipation for their next record. Whilst last year’s Hive Mind lacked the immediacy and innovation of Ego Death, it was still a record that expertly focused on exactly what each person brings to the group as well as the powerful chemistry between them all. Some tracks pushed the boundaries of their previous sound, whilst others very much rested in their comfort zone.
It’s Hive Mind that receives the most exposure tonight, with the Off The Wall rhythms of their most danceable single so far ‘Roll (Burbank Funk)’, the bossa nova of ‘La Di Da’ and opener ‘Come Together’ as well as the relaxed summery jams of ‘Come Over’, which all result in mass singalongs amongst the sold out audience . Others tracks from the album such as ‘Wanna Be’ and ‘Mood’ threaten to descend into nothingness, but even these weaker tracks from the album are still magically brought to life, with Smith’s versatile drumming and Lacy’s charismatically hazy guitar.
Syd is an aura of positive energy, with a warm smile and candid demeanour that is nothing but endearing (as well as having a gorgeously soft voice which also lifts any song she sings on). Ego Death tracks receive the biggest reception and Syd leads them through it with confidence and guile, from the call and response “fuck you ex” anthem of ‘Just Sayin’ (about her ex-girlfriend who she says screwed her over which is okay because her new one is “very nice”), to the Sade-esque ‘Special Affair’ and ‘Under Control’’s ode to self reliance and self-belief. She is sincere and enthusiastic throughout, telling the crowd of their love for London, their excitement of it being apparently their “biggest show ever”, but is also poignantly honest regarding ‘It Gets Better (With Time)’, a song she wrote whilst experiencing depression, which is tonight dedicated to Mac Miller’s mother Karen (Miller being instrumental to The Internet’s early success).
Syd announces towards the end of the show that “Steve wants to tell you his album is finished” as well as stating hers and Martians’ is as well. Closing the show on intergalactic rhapsody ‘Girl’ and a duet between Syd and Lacy on ‘Curse’, The Internet have confirmed their status as one of the best bands in the music industry right now. With so much talent and so much clearly to come, even bigger shows are soon to beckon.