Live Review: Oberhofer, Pond, and Makeup Monsters at The Sunset Tavern

Bebe Besch / April 16, 2012

Oberhofer at The Sunset Tavern (All photos and videos by Bebe Besch)

To stand out amongst pop musicians one thing is necessary: genuineness. Fads come and go, and stars are molded into single-churning machines, but those who share a sense of accessibility through the vulnerability of their writing and performance are the most memorable, and Brooklyn-based Oberhofer certainly shares these traits.

Brad Oberhofer, originally from Tacoma, moved to Brooklyn not long ago with plans to turn his singular creations into a full band line-up. There, he successfully made connections with complementary bandmates Pete Sustaric, Matt Scheiner, and Ben Roth to make, simply, Oberhofer. Recently, Brad Oberhofer has mentioned wanting to take the pop-rock band’s renditions in the direction of a more orchestrated atmosphere, but for the time being the foursome have energetically translated their pop singles like “Heart” and “OooOooO” into fast-paced dance rock. The acoustics of The Sunset Tavern blared as Brad Oberhofer played each hook on his electric guitar while eagerly spinning, bouncing, and toe-prancing his way around the stage. Drummer Pete Sustaric was also much louder and forceful than found on their recorded tracks; he brought intensity to the back of the stage, where it had lacked in the previous performances of the night.

Brad Oberhofer of Oberhofer at The Sunset by Bebe Besch

With climbing excitement, Oberhofer played through their powerful pop arrangements, while in-between acknowledging how thankful they were to be playing a packed house in Seattle. Brad Oberhofer’s parents were even in the crowd, whom he thanked and said “hi” to multiple times throughout the set. The band’s eagerness to share the efforts they put into their debut album, Time Capsules II (which was just released late last month) were obvious – smiles were shared continuously on stage between members and interaction with the crowd was continuous. At one moment, an audience member asked Brad “what did that amp ever do to you?” in response to his impulsive kicking during their songs, and in response, Brad smiled and kicked it harder the next time, while looking the fan dead in the eye. Humorous, down to earth, and on the rise, Oberhofer may just be beginning to turning heads for attention, but this tiny project that started in Tacoma years ago is absolutely bound for larger things. Oberhofer has the drive and honesty necessary to break pop barriers.

Nick Allbrook of Pond at The Sunset Tavern by Bebe Besch

Holy Pond! Unless you were familiar with the Spinning Top artists’ side project, this second performance was shockingly the most tenacious of the night, despite not being the headliner. The quartet from Perth, Australia showed up at The Sunset last week with no reservations – many of the live videos available online don’t accurately represent the band’s vigor, but the minimum space of the venue and the packed audience made for a perfect platform to show us their true energy.

Both Pond’s guitarist Jay Watson and singer/keyboardist/flutist Nick Allbrook are members of another Australian band, Tame Impala, but with Pond they explore exciting collaboration efforts amongst rotating friends for a heavier version of the psychedelic rock found in their other endeavors. Though not as well known as Tame Impala, Pond has been creating explorative efforts and producing albums since 2008, with their latest, Beard, Wives, Denim, coming out just last month.

Pond at The Sunset Tavern by Bebe Besch

As a front man, Nick Allbrook was nearly unrecognizable on stage; he normally plays bass in Tame Impala, and with us he became exaggeratedly animated. Twitching and delivering lyrics in languages all his own, Allbrook bopped around on the tiny stage, stretching his thin limbs to their maximum in uncomfortable poses. Half of Pond’s performance Allbrook spent with the audience, however. Laying on us, surfing us, sitting on us, or rolling around on the floor amongst us. Once he laid directly on me, and though I held him as long as I could, he eventually dropped to the ground floor, much to his own approval – he happily began crawling below our sight lines. The continued unexpectedness of Pond’s performance lasted until their very conclusion, leaving us each with a taste of their otherworldly abilities. Perhaps their genius stemmed from intoxication, or maybe Pond really deserved the baffling acceptance we gave them for their refreshing eccentrics.

Makeup Monsters at The Sunset Tavern by Bebe Besch

Also from Tacoma, openers Makeup Monsters did well to pace the energy for the following sets. The trio, made up of Isaac Solverson, Shayne Weeks, and most recently Jay Clancy, played tunes fit for a personal house party as their self-described  “indie rock” transformed into a proper punk atmosphere live. The group made it to the finals of the Sound Off! Competition in 2009, and their enthusiasm on stage proved why. Humble and quick to have you dancing amongst the strangers around you, Makeup Monsters were the perfect choice to stimulate the crowd first at The Sunset.

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