words: Sarah Rix // photos: Rick Clifford @rcstills
“Basically, it ends up as this repeating loop of the crowd being happy because the band is happy, and the band being happy because the crowd is happy.”
On Sunday night, the cool change finally hit Melbourne after a weekend of sweltering 35+ degree temperatures.
The gusts of wind and slightly-ominous-rain clouds (that passed almost as soon as they appeared) came as opener Baro had the crowd singing along to the line “you’re my baby”. The Melbourne artist paused to give his respect to the wind – the breeze perhaps working in his favour and helping to perk up a lazy Sunday audience, all too happy to stretch out on the grass in anticipation of headlining act The Internet.
While Baro’s lyrical content is perhaps a bit much for an all-ages shows (“this view, fuck everybody” he repeatedly sang in the chorus for the opening track of the night, later comparing a woman’s vagina to a mussel being out of a shell), he delivered it well. The upbeat, quick pacing on “Wdubi”, featuring Nasty Mars, was a highlight of his opening slot.
The audience was quick to rise once headlining act The Internet stepped on stage. Set to take the stage at Golden Plains this coming weekend, the Los Angeles-based five-piece brought a festival-ready set to their sold out Zoo Twilights show.
There’s a certain novelty to seeing shows at the Melbourne Zoo. For one, you’re in a zoo! The giraffes are literally a two-minute walk away! And you’re can feel good about your decision to buy a ticket because you’re not just seeing there for the band – you’re also supporting a good cause with all ticket proceeds contributing to the conservation of the (delightfully adorable) Eastern Barred Bandicoot.
For another, Zoo Twilights tend to be incredibly civil. Like: pack a picnic and enjoy sitting in a field amongst good people who like good music, civil. An all-around nice vibe and a wonderful way to make use of a Melbourne summer. Plus the shows end before 10 pm so even if it’s on a Sunday, you’re home and in bed at a ridiculously reasonable hour. If this makes me an old person, I am fine with that.
It’s also – and perhaps most importantly – a change of scenery for the band on stage, too. In an age where artists make their living playing to live audiences, the opportunity to vary the routine is going to be a welcome one. The Internet even took some time to joke around with one of the zookeepers in the audience, asking them about the animals.
This atypical setting puts the band in a good mood (furthered by lead vocalist Syd's love-heart-emoji-eyes state) and the audience is also in a good mood. Basically, it ends up as this repeating loop of the crowd being happy because the band is happy, and the band being happy because the crowd is happy.
It helps, too, that The Internet are an incredibly dynamic live band. The five-piece layer on their instrumental lines, and as opening song “Come Together” would demonstrate, they have incredible interplay between Syd’s lighter, emotional vocal lines and the rest of the band’s guttural approach. A deep bass line from Patrick Paige II and the chorus delivery by keyboardist Matthew Martin were of particular note on their first number – though it’s hard to deny Syd’s clear stage presence.
“Melbourne, can we dance?” she asked before launching into “Roll (Burbank Funk)”, a song that could have come straight from 70s funk care of Steve Lacy’s guitar lines. Drummer Christopher Smith also got his time to shine with “Gabby”, a track from 2015’s Ego Death. They were quick to remind the crowd of their latest release, too, plugging 2018’s Hive Mind throughout the night. Daft Punk-like guitars on “La Di Da” were accompanied by Dance Dance Revolution arrows flitting up the screen behind them.
Dance party and musical dexterity aside, if there was one takeaway from The Internet’s Zoo Twilight show, it’s that Syd is in love.
“My girl came to Australia for me,” she told the audience to cheers. It was a contagiously affectionate mood that prevailed throughout the evening and, when the crowd shouted an emphatic “you fucked up!” as part of “Just Sayin’ I Tried”, you could tell it was coming from a genuine place with Syd’s emotions mirroring their own.
“It’s been a long time,” she told everyone as the song ended, by way of introduction to “It Gets Better (With Time)” – a song about depression, dedicated to Mac Miller’s mom. “I’m happy now. And it taught me something. You know what it taught me? It gets better.”
It’s hard to imagine you’ll get a more perfect show at the zoo, though it’s easy to think that the band will hold this one near and dear for years to come.
“This is now my favourite place to perform,” Syd said to the Melbourne crowd to round out the night. “At the zoo, of all places.”