words: Megan Henderson // photos: Jess Sommerfeld
'...It seems as though he is
almost unaware that there is a sold out room of 800 people watching him..'
Submerging into a red-lit Corner Hotel, I prepare myself for a total change of atmosphere to what I usually experience at this venue. If you’re familiar with the work of Tom Iansek and Tom Snowdon, you’ll know that the product of their talents is incredibly evocative and moving.
Previously producing work under the name #1 Dads, Iansek’s current collaboration with Snowdon, No Mono, is undoubtedly the duo’s most ambient work yet. It’s difficult to subject No Mono to one singular genre, as Snowdon’s voice alone creates such a hauntingly beautiful experience for the listener, and it is easy to get lost in the music as it takes unexpected directions and climatic leaps.
No Mono is joined by support acts JEFFE and Eliott, and I have never experienced so much vocal talent in such a short amount of time. Solo artist JEFFE plays for a brief 30 minutes, but manages to effectively display her vocal range and fit in a cover of Petit Biscuit’s "Problems" before her set is up. Eliott silences a chattering audience with a cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides Now’ before inviting JEFFE back to the stage to perform a song about shaking her hips that she tells us was written in her cousin’s garage – who would’ve thought?
Once the vibe is set, Iansek and Snowdon grace the stage. Iansek works some magic that hears the intro to "Violence Broken", then shortly accompanied by Snowdon’s chilling vocals. The crowd stands and watches on in silence, stunned by the sheer intensity of the opening track. I find myself in disbelief at how seamlessly this particular track translates in the live performance: Snowdon’s voice is so unique and unlike anything I’ve heard before, and his stage presence is absolutely captivating in the way that he is so absorbed into the music. It seems as though he is almost unaware that there is a sold out room of 800 people watching him.
With Iansek on accompanying vocals, keyboard, guitar, and working the production all at the same time, it is difficult to believe there are only two people on the stage. Iansek’s talents seem to extend further with every project; being the master behind #1 Dads, Big Scary, self-titled solo work and now No Mono, I would put Tom Iansek at the top of my list for incredibly underrated contributors to the Australian music industry.
Before long we hear the piano intro to "Return To", one of the most loved tracks from Iansek’s #1 Dads project. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t secretly hoping the two would perform this track. Despite being from a separate musical project, the track fit in perfectly with the set list whilst maintaining the ambience that has been present during the performance.
The show is closed with yet another chilling track by the name of "Butterflies", accompanied by green strobing lasers that make Snowdon and Iansek appear as ghost like figures behind the lights. The track features minimal instruments, with a pulsating synthesizer making up the bulk of the instrumental. This paired with Snowdon’s voice evokes an almost eerie and unsettled feeling to end the performance. This feeling is quickly removed when the two come back on stage, munching on some Malteasers, which Iansek tells us there is a big bag of backstage.
They switch up their stage positions; Snowdon taking to the keyboard to perform "Frostbitten", with Iansek taking to the standing mic with backing vocals. They tell us they have one more track to perform and the crowd is left wondering… will it be another track from the album? Will it be another #1 Dads track? The answer is none of the above, and we are absolutely surprised to hear "Unchained Melody" by Righteous Brothers, which is just so suited to Snowdon’s voice and has the crowd crooning along in the chorus as we all serenade each other and close the evening on a classic note that makes us feel like we’re in an old school romance movie.