LIVE REVIEW: La Dispute’s powerful Newport Hotel show
La Dispute’s set at the Newport Hotel on September 6, their second of 16 Australian shows, was one of those rare performances where the performers and audience alike were on the same wavelength from the get-go, making for a moving and invigorating night. Sydneysiders Sports Bra opened in support with their brand of emo/punk. Their set featured some nice contrasting clean/distorted guitar lines and interplay between their four vocalists. Some of their songs also featured some hard-hitting lines, setting the tone for the main act.
La Dispute’s immaculate live form was on display right from the opener ‘FULTON STREET I’, with its dynamic shift from soft to loud sounding even more striking than on record. Their many years together has clearly turned this group into a tight live band, impressive given the volume they play at and the many members on stage. This cohesiveness was particularly evident on tracks from their latest record Panorama, which includes their most subtle instrumentals yet that sounded heavenly live.
Frontman Jordan Deyer’s trademark spoken/shouted delivery also lent itself nicely to the live setting. He paced about the stage, sometimes fist-pumping the air for emphasis, often handing the microphone over to one of the shouting fans at the front of the stage. This relationship between band and audience was the most important factor in making this a stand-out live show. Deyer repeatedly mentioned how much fun they were having on stage, and it was evident the feeling was returned. No doubt they would have received an encore had the band not stated they would not play one earlier in the night. When Deyer spoke at length about ensuring everyone was keeping each other safe and looking out for each other, and the power of live shows to build a haven of inclusivity, there were actual tears from the crowd.
The band played songs from all across their four-albums-deep discography, and they were all warmly received. The three (of four) “letter” songs from Wildlife (‘A Departure’, ‘A Letter’, ‘A Poem’) got particularly rousing receptions, while ‘Hudsonville, Mi 1956’ and ‘New Storms for Older Lovers’ elicited big singalongs. The biggest moment was saved for last, however, with ‘King Park’ blowed the audience away to end the night. After the set, the band were more than happy to stay around the stage and having meaningful conversations with the fans- a testament to the kind of environment they actively worked to foster that night. As Deyer said, these sorts of nights offer solace in an increasingly hostile outside world, and that is worth celebrating as much as the band on stage.