@ Lee’s Palace, Toronto
February 4, 2017
An unassuming duo took the stage of Lee’s Palace this past Saturday night. Decked out in all black and leather, the two quietly geared up to perform amidst a loud room of chattering audience members. The crowd was eager for the music to begin, but since not all of the concertgoers that evening were familiar with the soft-spoken musicians on stage, many were surprised with their sheer force and sonic magnitude. All eyes shot to the stage in an instant as the powerful sounds of Australian duo VOWWS suddenly filled the room. A well-crafted blend of distorted guitars and synthesizers weave within a punchy collection of grimy industrial drum machines; creating the perfect foundation for members Matt and Rizz’s gothic vocal melodies. The crowd is suddenly dropkicked into the dark and gloomy world these two create, and raucous applause erupts from the new converts in the audience as the first track of the night comes to an end.
VOWWS intense sound quickly conjures comparisons to a multitude of genres, from industrial and electronic pop to post-punk and metal, even bordering on heavy rave at certain points. Although the duo may borrow certain elements from many musical stylings, they never come across as a revival or retro act, they’ve created something unique, and the immense wall of sound these two deliver is undeniable.
Currently touring in support of the post-punk group White Lies, VOWWS have been challenging their audiences to make the leap into something heavier. Ripping through a string of tracks from their debut LP “The Great Sun”, and promoting the release of their new single “Heartbreaker”, the group showcased their range in composition, while still maintaining a consistent aesthetic, both heavy and atmospheric. Rizz and Matt take turns singing lead, with each member’s distinct vocals complimenting the other through eerie harmonies and dark hooks. Matt’s voice is the strongest connection to the post-punk sound with a deep vocal range and rumbling timbre; and while Matt goes low, Rizz goes high with melodic soaring vocals, sometimes modulated, adding to the haunting atmosphere of the group’s sound.
Rizz is the mastermind behind the underlying atmosphere of the set, as she manages the drum machines and synthesizers, featuring a huge range of tones and effects. Matt then fills any potential void and ups the ante with his heavy distorted guitar lines, putting the crowd into a head-banging trance.
VOWWS have effectively proven that less is more with the way they utilize their instruments and composition to blow their audience away with only a two-person team. As their set came to a close, the crowd had significantly grown in size and the energy boosted tenfold. This duo may have been new faces to many of the crowd that night, but VOWWS delivered a performance that gave White Lies a run for their money and definitely secured a new room full of fans.
– Elijah Jimenez-Clarke
(Photography: Liz Morrison)