Music Insight, 2018
Few indie artists can say they’ve performed to a packed Concert Hall at the Sydney Opera House, and the wonder wasn’t lost on Los Angeles native Moses Sumney.
A soulful mix of R&B, folk, and jazz, Sumney was accompanied by Sam Gendel (Percussion, Woodwinds, Electric Guitar,) Mike Haldeman (Electric Guitar) and drummer ‘Lucky’ Paul Taylor, who has toured with indie-pop artist, Feist.
Coming off St Jerome’s Laneway Festival in Sydney, Sumney commanded the venue. Dressed in signature all-black and opening with a live mix of ‘Self-Help Tape,’ his mystical vocals filled the Concert Hall and cast the crowd into mesmerised silence. Four microphones allowed for complex vocal loops, body percussion and the airy falsetto that fills so many of his records.
Surrounded by rich haze and dim lighting, Sumney’s spectre loomed in and out of view for the first portion of his performance. Incantations and mutterings featured as the backing for remixed tracks from Aromanticism, his debut full-length album after releasing two EP’s.
Clearly comfortable in his surroundings, perching on amps and conducting the crowd during ‘Man on the Moon,’ Sumney fashioned the atmosphere with ease. Dedicating ‘Make Out In My Car’ to “everyone who has never been kissed, which by the looks of it, is most of you,” his personality shone through even the most brooding interludes.
Remaining relaxed, he took song requests from the crowd, and shared a story about his mother calling in the middle of his sound check. The atmosphere wasn’t what you’d expect from one of Sydney’s most prestigious venues, but Sumney’s indie charm rang through all the same.
Let down by an out of time lighting program, at one point taking cues from the vocalist himself, his performance remained bewitching. A black curtain disguised intricate looping devices linked to his four microphones, a synthesiser and electric guitar.
Oozing practiced skillfulness, he casually strutted the stage, returning to his instruments just in time to record the next loop.
Returning for an encore, Sumney admitted that it felt “too soon” to finish just yet. Standing alone with his guitar in hand, he concluded the night crooning a sparse rendition of crowd favourite, ‘Plastic’.
Ending with rapturous applause and a standing ovation, Sumney appeared as much in awe as the crowd, thanking them for coming to see an “indie artist with only one album.”
At the end of the evening, two teens in ripped tees and high-waisted slacks ran through the Opera House cheering after managing to nab a copy of the set list, while a family discussed his performance with wonder. The evening seemed to exceed the expectations of even the artist and his management, whose small, single, merchandise stall was congested enough to block the exits.
With upcoming performances at Coachella, Homecoming and Bonaroo Festivals, the stature of Moses Sumney is certain to keep rising.