2/144 Cleveland St, Sydney
NSW, 2000, Australia.
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A guitar amp precariously bounces along to the rhythms propounded by Ninetynine. Shortly after a handful of girls – from all ends of the earth, it seems – join it, and the scene bathes in the glow of early nineties community West Coast “alternative” idealism. Only weeks after hearing the news that Lan Franchi’s, one of the few remaining performance warehouses in Sydney, is about to embrace the dystopic reality of housing back packers en masse, it’s a refreshing reminder that the world doesn’t suck. Ninetynine, along with the neo-grrrl focused Scooter collective, present a show that is comforting in paralleling that idealism. Space isn’t what makes these events – it’s people.
Actively recreating mid to late nineties indie pop, Ninetynine present an alternate trajectory for the evolution that “twee” has undertaken since it’s heyday, storing some of the sounds but dropping the tag entirely. Performing as a three-piece (occasionally, but unnecessarily, they are four), they enthrall with layers of percussive melody built around repetition and, ultimately, the characters of frontwoman Laura MacFarlane and percussionist Cameron Potts. It’s a testament to the benefits of idiosyncrasy in sound that Ninetynine still produce some of the more engaging and instantly comforting sounds.
Through a short but career-covering set they transform indie pop prose through keyboard motifs, Casio drum loops, the primacy of a makeshift vibraphone and a drumming style that seems maniacal in its silhouette but translates effectively into the sonic counterpart of intense and alarming. The calypso tones of ‘Pompeii’ and urgency of ‘The Process’ both seem life affirming in their unassuming yet intoxicating awkwardness, while material off last year’s Worlds of Space / Population / Robots blends the different sides of Ninetynine simultaneously, to a fresh yet familiar end. For all the musical terrain that Ninetynine traipse it is MacFarlane that presents the greatest allure – the tension that emerges between her songwriting and vocals, and the instrumentation and approach she applies otherwise, is like a tale of two musical tenures.
by Eliza Sarlos