Even before the performance began, my first step into The Tivoli Theatre (Brisbane, 7 March) instantly felt as if I had walked into a time machine.
Strange notion, though it’s truly hard to feel part of the 21st century while listening to The Internet’s gorgeous blend of '90s R&B and hip hop, '20s jazz, and '70s funk.
As per their recent record ‘Hive Mind’, they started with ‘Come Together’. Comparable to classic jazz composing it’s grounded by walking bass, melody then layered with strangely-paired chords (think sevenths, instead of standard major and minor), almost sounding improvised.
“Brisbane!” vocalist Sydney Bennett cried mid-song, returned by excited cheers.
The band smoothly progressed into track two of the album, ‘Roll (Burbank Funk)’ alternatively sung by guitarist Steve Lacy. “We’re gonna play some old sh.t now, alright?” Syd announced. “Thank you guys so much for coming.”
Rewind six years to their 2013 record, ‘Dontcha’ felt noticeably more pop-influenced at first, Syd’s vocals sugary sweet, the song then shifting to their funk-inspired roots in the chorus.
“Hey guys, it seems pretty hype in here,” she teased, “I’m liking this. It’s great. Hands up if you came here tonight to have a good time?” Palms shot to the ceiling; she smiled at the sight, performing the silky ‘Under Control’ from ‘Ego Death’.
An unbelievable drum solo proved the standout of ‘Gabby’; hips swayed to the chorus, very simple (merely “Gabby” repeated) though earwormy enough to undoubtedly spur humming from even the shiest singers.
The Internet quietly spoke between each other on stage, Syd returned to the mic. “We dropped a new album, not too long ago. If you don’t have it, that’s okay... Not really.” Laughter followed, she continued. “When this next song drops, I –” “– I love you!” somebody screamed, Syd grinned, “I love you too. I need you all to dance now. Okay?”
New single ‘La Di Da’ deserved the pre-hype, its wonky guitar riff layered upon congo beats, breathing life into happy-go-lucky lyrics about dancefloor to’s-and-fro’s.
“How many couples are in the crowd? Right there?” Syd singled out a pair, “Cute. How many are in long-term relationships? Who got some years? Five years? That’s impressive. Who can top five? F..., ten years? We’re gonna dedicate this song to the lovers.”
Our eyes saw candlelight flickering on the screen, our ears heard the sensual ‘Hold On’. ‘Hive Mind’ favourite ‘Come Over’ followed, embellished with a jaw-dropping guitar solo.
‘Special Affair’ was surrendered surprisingly early, crowd loudly chiming along to the chorus. Post song, the band were forced to stop, unable to play through the deafening applause.
“Australians are showin’ up!” Syd bellowed, “I’m glad we’ve had this enthusiasm, before the next song… It’s called ‘Just Sayin’. It’s about my ex.” Boos filled the room, she laughed, “It’s alright. It’s all good, I appreciate it. It’s cool.”
She coached us through a satisfying sing-along: “I’ll count 1, 2 – you shout, ‘You f...ed up!’” The response post-song was thunderous, even noisier than the previous, prompting The Internet – smiling gratefully – to pause once again.
Though despite the room vibrating on an extremely high frequency, the band effortlessly asserted their power and control over the mood. Soaring energy levels were instantly reverted to soothing sentiments during ‘It Gets Better (With Time)’, and maintained with low-key groover, ‘Beat Goes On’.
“Last song,” Syd warned, sweat towel draped around her neck, dreamily drifting through the beautiful ‘Wanna Be’. Chorus “Do you want to be, do you want to be, do want to be my girl?” was trailed by her sheepish announcement, “She DID want to be my girl!”, the band then transitioning seamlessly into highest-streamed, ‘Girl’.
The Internet stayed put, again held firm by screaming fans. “We’re gonna do one more little song, okay?” Instead, we were rewarded twice, the smooth-crooning ‘Curse’ contrasting perfectly with the thundering ‘Get Away’ to close the set.
Stepping into the venue initially felt as if my feet had planted themselves into a time machine; the thought, however, incorrectly implies The Internet are ‘rehashing’ history. ‘Rehashing’ seems unjust when the band are paving their OWN way – and own era of music, undeniably – etched with soulful hues, a humble demeanour, and hypnotic musicality.
This article was originally published in Scenestr and republished with permission.