Glistening gold accents frame the stage of the Fox Theater in Oakland — with the intricate interior resembling a temple, the statues encourage the audience to give their offerings to the artists at the altar. And on Saturday night, the audience did just that, offering their undivided attention and enthusiasm to Bob Moses and Mansionair.
For its Oakland visit of the “Battle Lines” tour, Canadian electronic band Bob Moses performed as the headliner after Australian alternative rock trio Mansionair. Mansionair is known for its atmospheric sound and minimalist aesthetic. The impeccable control of Alex Nicholls and Lachlan Bostock over their instruments — drums and keyboard, respectively — compliment the smooth vocals of lead singer Jack Froggatt exceptionally.
Mansionair’s repertoire for the night included a variety of the band’s popular hits. The band members kicked off strong with “Hold Me Down” and “Technicolour.” During their performance of “Easier,” Froggatt perched himself on the edge of the stage, bringing himself extremely close to his fans in both physical proximity and emotional connection — it was a well-received gesture. The band’s efforts to actively interact with the audience were heartwarming, especially Bostock’s open invitation to sing “Happy Birthday” for Froggatt.
Mansionair continued with its most recently released song, “Falling,” a delightful track about falling in love, and also gave its audience a sweet treat: a preview of an unreleased track from the band’s upcoming album. Although the artists who Mansionair collaborated with for the track, “Line of Sight” — Odesza and Wynne — were not present, Mansionair still performed its predominantly vocal-free rendition of the song, hyping up the fans and encouraging them to clap along. The band concluded its segment of the night with “Astronaut,” one of its most iconic tracks.
Despite the fact that Mansionair’s time on stage was rather brief, it was action-packed; to say that it was enjoyable is a gross understatement. The members’ excitement at being able to present their artistry, and their refreshing freedom of spirit were effectively relayed to the audience through some light headbanging and passionate energy.
The anticipation for Bob Moses, the chief entertainer of the night, was unbelievable. As the band came onstage, a big wave of fans rushed to the front of the stage in a matter of seconds. The entire floor was full, hands thrust high in the air. When Bob Moses began playing “Heaven Only Knows,” the crowd went wild.
Contrary to Mansionair’s more interactive and paced performance, Bob Moses delivered relentless, unyielding exhilaration. Playing song after song, the band members did not stop to rest. Their repertoire mostly consisted of the tracks from their new album Battle Lines, including the title track, “Eye for an Eye,” “Selling Me Sympathy” and “Nothing But You.”
The visual effects for these songs were exquisite. During one, the light panels placed behind the band reflected the guitar chords that were being played. This creative use of lighting was a particularly efficient way to seize the audience’s attention.
The vocals of Bob Moses were extremely consistent and powerful throughout the show. The synched energy of the band members for many of the tracks was also impressive. For instance, the consistent piano chords mixed with the vulnerability in singer Tom Howie’s voice in “Enough to Believe” created an exceedingly solemn vibe. In “Listen to Me” and “Back Down,” the combination of a bass pulse and synth emphasized a message of defiance.
A general pattern in the songs performed was a fluctuation between a complex sound consisting of various instrumentals and vocals, and vocals in isolation — a dying-down into a singular form of sound and a crescendo into a synthesis of sounds kept the songs dynamic and intriguing.
Although it would have been difficult to put on a bad show with such impressive track lists, both Mansionair and Bob Moses exceeded expectations for the night. The combination of the two acts was a delightful one. Although the bands’ respective styles differ, the juxtaposition of their sounds was surprisingly satisfying. On the one hand, Mansionair established a mellow and dulcet atmosphere, while on the other, Bob Moses blew away this comfort with a heavier rock reverberation. Together, they were the perfect treat for a Saturday night.
Contact Sophie Kim at [email protected].