Pond (photo: Estefany Gonzalez)
As the gritty yet beautifully synthesized notes of “Don’t Look Directly At The Sun Or You’ll Go Blind” echoed across the walls of the Great American Music Hall, you could spot hundreds of dancing, moshing, jumping bodies flailing to the beat of Pond’s music. Yellow lights flashed upon the stage, making each band member glow. It seemed as though the group’s energy was as magnetic, pulling concert goers closer and closer to the stage like gravity. The main floor of the venue was so packed it was hard not to touch the person next to you. A man apologized for rubbing his sweat on me at one point, but in reality, he was just one of many people who’s sweat stained my shirt that night. Pond shined bright like the sun in a dark lit venue and despite the song titles warning, all eyes were on the Australian musicians.
I read an article referring to Pond as a Tame Impala side project once. I looked up the band, gave the music a listen and found myself drumming my fingers to the beat of a few songs against my desk. Though both bands have a dreamy psychedelic tone, I quickly found out that, no this band was not a side project but a wonderfully crafted project of its own. Pond’s music has elements of funk, grunge, glam rock and a very punk-rock stage presence that comes across via crowd surfing and mosh pits during live performances.
While there is no denying that Pond singer Nicholas Allbrook was previously a part of the Tame Impala touring band, Jay Watson is a member of both Pond and the earlier mentioned, Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker joined Pond on drums for a short stint and currently produces the band’s music, the two are very different. Perhaps what blurs the lines is that there are a number of musical projects surrounding the same musicians.
When I caught up with the band members for portraits at Phoenix Hotel in San Francisco before their set, the group seemed close-knit, just friends who happen to make music. It was then I realized, maybe the reason I see such a large distinction between these two groups is because I grew up in the North Bay and the music community is so close-knit, I’m used to seeing musicians join multiple bands. I’ll often attend house shows where I’ll see musicians play multiple sets in one night, almost as if it were a game of musical chairs. To me, it just makes sense to start projects with people you like to hang out with and still manage to have a distinct sound.
The band’s closeness came off on stage too. I could see synth player Jamie Terry smile as Allbrook interacted with the crowd before crowd surfing. I heard Watson and Joe Ryan laugh as Allbrook told the crowd he saw “a lot of hotties” in the crowd, pointed at several fans then joked that he “couldn’t go for everyone” when someone in the crowd shouted and asked if they were a hottie too. It was moments like these that showed the quirky, yet charming chemistry the group has.
At the end of the night, as the band played the second song of an encore the crowd loudly demanded, the lights dimmed and people around me sang along to “The Weather,” it seemed fitting to see so many people close their eyes and sway. After all, the sun has to set sometime.