GUM Treats Sydney To A Rare Solo Show


Oxford Art Factory, 02/03/17

Photos by Josh Groom

Even if you don’t recognise the name GUM, you’d probably recognise the man behind it; Jay Watson. As a touring member of Tame Impala and core member of Pond, the multi-instrumentalist is a key part of Australia’s renowned psych scene, and amidst all this he’s somehow managed to sneak in 3 solo albums as GUM. The only problem is, despite Jay Watson performing frequently in other bands, GUM is a bit more of an elusive beast.

Despite being a fan, I’d only seen GUM once before, at last year’s Gizzfest, and was admittedly a bit underwhelmed to find that it was just Jay and a backing tape. Totally understandable however, given that Pond were to play a massive set later that night, just a shame to see GUM sent to the sidelines.

You can therefore imagine my and many others’ excitement at the promise of a full band GUM tour this year, and I’m happy to say it easily met expectations. Although his albums, especially last year’s Flash In The Pan, feature a greater bend towards synth/dream pop than the other outfits, it was amazing how Pond-like the performance still was.

Somewhat laid back numbers like ‘Ophelia’ and ‘Gemini’ were given a full band facelift, and transformed into a gloriously washy and reverb-laden wall of sound. Although it’s great to see the Aussie psych scene taking off so well, a greedy part of me misses the opportunity to see these trippy bands in their natural habits; small underground rooms with flashing lights and a distinct lack of fresh air. This made the show’s placement at the Oxford Art Factory a perfect fit, and one which all punters relished in. There was some delightfully weird dancing going on in that room.

Although a lot of the crowd seemed more familiar with the name Jay Watson than his GUM material, the set easily won them over, and proved (as if there was any doubt) that Jay Watson can easily stand on his own. I have to admit that I did have a good chuckle when, after a particularly funky rendition of ‘Anaesthetized Lesson’, cries of “Fuck Kevin” echoed through the room.

It was a rare treat to see Jay performing his own material in such a small room, and it’s one that made me realise once again how lucky we are in Australia to have our epic psych scene.

About Mark Royters

Many years ago I was given an Arctic Monkeys EP. Everything changed from that moment onwards. I'm a Sydney-based music writer, reviewer and interviewer.

View all posts by Mark Royters

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