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Live review: Parcels @ SWX Bristol, 06/11/18

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Parcels brought to life their genius fusion of electro-pop and disco on stage.

The Australian five-piece set a precedence of a quirky, fun-filled immersion into the dizzy disco days before they even came on stage; the ceiling of Bristol’s SWX was lined with huge disco-balls, and the crowd were treated to some seriously appropriate pre-gig tunes, including Sister Sledge’s ‘Lost In Music’ and ABBA’s ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’, which the audience particularly loved.

With such a tangible buzz of feel-good in the air, Parcels unsurprisingly received a huge welcome when they bounced onto the stage, repping a modern twist on the disco era. Opening with ‘Comedown’, the band were evidently ecstatic to hear the entire crowd singing along to the track’s infectious synth-soaked hooks. The opener’s bassline transitioned seamlessly into one of the largest modern epitomes of disco, ‘Lightenup’, with Hill once again taking centre stage to provide the song with its iridescent, larger-than-life wiggly bassline.

Parcels seem to have a perpetual store of charismatic personality which they injected into their live performance, elevating the unique quirks dotted throughout their self-titled debut album. Effective use of lighting and innovative changes of backdrops almost gave each track its own visual character. One of the best things about the performance was to see the group genuinely gel together; their long-hair-swinging, body-grooving enjoyment was unavoidably infectious.

Expectedly, Parcels delivered funk mastery under the guise of electro-pop – several songs, such as the twinkly piano single ‘Older’ and wah-wah pedal extraordinaire ‘Iknowhowtofeel’ surged into euphoric, glossy instrumentation, complemented by melting synthesiser chords, that almost felt improvised as the band reflected each other’s contagious energy. The extension and alteration of these instrumentals allowed the band to truly showcase their stellar ability, with each member getting a moment of appreciation under the spotlight. The best example of this was ‘Everyroad’, made almost entirely instrumental in comparison to the album’s version. The track’s end was infiltrated with booming bass, overlaid with syncopated electric guitar riffs, which were slowed down in pace and performed under intense scarlet lighting. 

Bassline-giant bops, ‘Tieduprightnow’, ‘Tape’ and the Daft Punk-produced sensation ‘Overnight’ didn’t disappoint. They were almost made better live by the amplification of Hill’s bass, brought to life by his effortlessly cool dominance. Notably, Parcels also kept the audience in surprise by slotting ‘Overnight’ towards the middle-end of the gig; not only because it would’ve been a predictable finale, but, as Hill told The National Student earlier that day, the band don’t want to be creatively defined by it.

Though Parcels are best renowned for their upbeat, giddy disco hits, their slower tracks were equally as impressive - ‘Withorwithout’ and ‘Iknowhowtofeel’ oozed stunning harmonies, which were far more prominent in the live renditions. The stripped performance of ‘Bemyself’, however, was the real success. Harmonic lulls and hums complemented the relaxed bass-centred instrumentals and calm self-assured lyrics, fortified even further by the shameless inclusion of the triangle and tambourine. Serret, on drums, emerged to join the rest of the band at the front of the stage as they showcased their vocal abilities, with harmonies that overlaid each other. The stark contrast in pace and performance allowed both the band’s vocals and instrumental abilities to have the appreciation that they deserved.

The band played out with the instrumental of ‘Comedown’ once again, giving the gig a feeling of having come full circle. Staying true to Parcels, the finale was an instrumental rendition of ‘Credits’, the last song on the album, and the members left one at a time. Parcels put on an undeniably brilliant night, capturing the feel-good essence of disco with an audience that did not stop dancing. Ultimately though, it was their abundant personality that allowed them to cultivate such a well-thought out and unforgettable gig.

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