words & photos: Sarah Rix @sarahrix
“… Maribou State's ability to build up to and then release a drop is what grassy dance floor dreams are made of.”
Splendour in the Grass sideshow season is the time of year when Melbourne is awash with music. Yes, usually there’s a lot going on in the southern hemisphere’s music capital, but mid-July is a different beast and, as a fan, you're spoiled for choice – the artists coming to town are hot up-and-comers, established veterans, or a combination of the two.
England's Maribou State fall into the second of those three categories – though for their fans down under, it’s convenient to treat them as if they're just emerging onto the scene. The duo of Chris Davids and Liam Ivory have taken their time to get to Australia; their Thursday night show at The Forum Theatre marked their Melbourne debut.
With two albums under their belt (2015's Portraits and 2018's Kingdoms in Colour), they brought with them the type of live show you know has been tested, tried, and verified by sold out audiences on the other side of the world. They're also, most certainly, a festival-ready band – Maribou State's ability to build up to and then release a drop is what grassy dance floor dreams are made of.
Davids and Ivory brought three other musicians with them to round out the sounds they've pulled together on record, including frequent collaborator Holly Walker who popped in throughout the night to deftly deliver songs like “Nervous Tics”, “Steal”, and “Midas”. It was a nice way to change up the band's instrumental abilities and their use of pre-recorded samples, though Maribou State's talents and songwriting were at their peak as they steadily built into their climaxes of drum beats, notes, and guitar lines.
From show opener “Feel Good” (sans American band Khruangbin) through to “Wallflower”, the four-piece were note-for-note in their delivery.
They also ventured into darker material near the end of their 14-song set, throwing in Portraits tracks “Rituals” and “The Clown” – both of which received a deservedly warm audience reception.
There’s good reason why Splendour in the Grass booked Maribou State to entertain the festival masses. Their Melbourne debut at The Forum certainly presented what they’re capable of and built for – the Thursday night dance party almost made it felt like you were seeing them in a sunny, grassy setting… which may only have made the Splendour envy even more palpable.