featuring Juan Wauters
November 2, 2018 at the Royale
Having seen Australian psychedelic rock band Pond live several times prior to their show at the Royale, I was not expecting to be as blown away as I was. I have realized their live performances never disappoint and will always exceed my high expectations.
No one in the audience knew the opener Juan Wauters, a humble musician originally from Uruguay. As he came on stage in a purple velvet turtleneck and embroidered jeans, the crowd wasn’t sure what to expect. With no band and only his acoustic guitar in hand, I was a little worried. He began strumming his guitar and singing “Born in Augusta, Georgia, James Brown / he was a poor little shoeshine boy / now he’s the king, the king of soul / hey hey hey” and the confused crowd fell silent.
Suddenly, Wauters darted across the stage and immediately lifted the spirit as people began laughing. Wauters then began twirling, sprinting, and stomping with his strap-on sneakers all while continuously singing the same song. Halfway through the 17-minute song, the crowd was completely riled up with clapping, shouting, and howling to encourage Wauters. Just when everyone thought the song would end, he immediately dove back into “Born in Augusta, Georgia…” After making his way through the balcony of the venue and throughout the crowd, all while singing the same verse, he finally ended the song.
Toward the middle of his set, Wauters decided to race various audience members on the floor of the Royale. His horrible singing voice was ultimately compensated by the sheer hilarity he brought to the concert. He seemed more like a comedian than a musician and was easily the most entertaining opening act I have ever seen. Wauters set the tone for an enthusiastic and engaged crowd.
As Pond came on stage, everyone went absolutely wild. Nick Allbrook, covered in leftover fake blood from Halloween, slyly strutted on stage with what looked like a bullet wound to the face. Starting off with ‘30,000 Megatons,’ Allbrook’s heavenly voice perfectly matched his signature crucified-Jesus-Christ-esque pose — balancing on one leg with arms extended while fake blood dripped down his face. He then shredded on his guitar with the ability of a god. Launching into another hit off The Weather, Pond swept the crowd off their feet with tight drumming, flowing keyboards, and more sexy dance moves for ‘Sweep Me Off My Feet.’ Immediately after, the band announced they would be playing a new song and proceeded to perform ‘Sixteen Days,’ which the crowd went just as nuts for, dancing as if it were a song they had been listening to for years.
‘Waiting Around for Grace’ started slowly and romantically. Allbrook sat down on the stage, took my hand, and looked me in the eyes as he sang the intro to the song. I was starstruck as he made one of Pond’s most popular songs feel like a personal ballad. As the harsher rock song of ‘Whatever Happened to the Million Head Collide’ broke down, the energy of the crowd reached a climax as people began thrashing in a small mosh pit. The momentum continued as Pond spiced up the ending of the song by blending in the rhythm of Air’s 2004 hit ‘Alpha Beta Gaga.’
Between songs, a fan gifted Allbrook with an alpaca fur poncho, for which he was incredibly grateful and reciprocated with a bouquet of fake flowers. Allbrook then whipped out a shining silver flute for ‘Zen Automaton,’ charming the audience yet again with his perfected multi-instrumental talent. Afterward, with a change in lighting that looked as if the sun was rising, the band propelled into ‘Don’t Look at the Sun or You’ll Go Blind,’ the oldest song within their discography on that night’s setlist. During the instrumental portion of the song, Allbrook stage dove and proceeded to crowd surf until he hopped back on the platform just in time for his guitar solo.
Ending the encore with ‘Man It Feels Like Space Again,’ both the band and the crowd had just as much energy as the start. Pond made it truly feel like space again and reminded me for the fifth time that this is what modern rock stars look like.
Photos by Ingrid Angulo
POND and Juan Wauters