ULTRAMEGA + Barley Passable: best decision this month

Updated: Sep 6

Gig Review

Thursday, 22nd April 2021 | ULTRAMEGA with Barley Passable @ HiWay Bar, Enmore

ULTRAMEGA with guest rapper Davy from Barley Passable at HiWay Bikini Bar

You know those evenings where you’re like, ‘I know I made plans tonight, but I’m just not feeling it’? That’s how hungover me felt on Thursday before the ULTRAMEGA gig. But I ended up going and that’s been my best decision so far this month.


I ended up in multiple impromptu synchronised dance routines, somehow failed to clap to a four on the floor beat and watched the night culminate with a cover of an Animal Crossing ditty.


Yes, this was synthwave trap band ULTRAMEGA’s live show at Enmore’s Hiway Bar last week, and all of it happened because the group released their debut EP ‘WE ARE Almost’ earlier this year. I never uncovered what ULTRAMEGA almost are, but they’re definitely an experience. After all, their Spotify bio is “we are going to be rich”, so what did I expect?


Not this.

Barley Passable, Sydney electronic duo
Barley Passable, Sydney electronic duo

Opening act Barley Passable is an electropop duo and prior to the show I’d listened to and loved their studio records. Nothing prepared me for their live act. Their stage entrance was the best I’ve seen all year - I’m not going to ruin it for you (go see for yourself at one of their many upcoming shows) but right from the get go they snatched up our attention.


Their eccentric dance moves were particularly compelling - so compelling that the audience would join in en masse. During the quirky couple’s groovy cover of Britney’s ‘...Baby One More Time’ we were guided through a synchronised dance routine involving the robotic flapping of arms and spinning in a circle ninety degrees at a time.


Barley Passable present the entire package, not only being glorious performers but also busting out some shimmering arpeggiated tracks driven by thumping disco beats and funky bass riffs reminiscent of europop duos like Elephanz and Daft Punk.


If they continue like this it won’t be long before we see them at some pretty major venues and festivals.

ULTRAMEGA with guest vocalist Tiana Young | HiWay Bikini Bar
“I’m afraid that after that, we might disappoint you”

As our headliners for the night set up their gear onstage, the slightly nonplussed looking lead guitarist Sam Killick stepped up to the mic and peered out to the audience.


“I’m afraid that after that, we might disappoint you,” he said nervously.


I daresay Killick was wrong.


Although the nature of the band and its music is not as upbeat as Barley Passable’s, ULTRAMEGA still held their own with their delightfully dotty stage presence. Honestly, I think they got me at “this next song is called ‘Facemelt’”.


A group with a sense of humour, ULTRAMEGA steered the night ahead with a psychedelic blend of electronic and rock genres, moving from tunes heavy with a theremin-like synth to Pink Floyd-esque interludes.


The group adapted their trap heavy studio tracks incredibly well to the live show context, for example replacing the robot voice in KNOCKOUT with singer Tiana Young’s soul drenched vocals to a wonderful effect.


Argue with me if you want, but the night came to a well suited climax with the band covering a tune from Animal Crossing during which drummer Pete Longhurst tapped away on an Asama drum synth to the delight of the crowd.


Have I said I’m glad I’m going to underground gigs every week?


Because shows like this one remind me just how damn satisfying it can be.


Connect with ULTRAMEGA and Barley Passable now; both their debut EPs are available to stream online.

 

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