Vivid Sydney: The Temper Trap at the Sydney Opera House

My second Vivid Sydney gig was last night, back at the Opera House.

The first act was a bloke called Chet Faker and his band. Chet plays gentle, groovy indie. It’s sort of like nu-trip-hop, delivered with breathy, raspy, soft vocals. Chet is, it seems, blowing up. It wasn’t the sort of thing to get you amped up, but it was pleasant enough. The highlight for me was definitely their cover of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity”.

The main act was one of the biggest Australian breakouts of the last few years, The Temper Trap, in their first of two Opera House nights for Vivid. “Sweet Disposition”, from first album Conditions, was a pretty bit hit in several parts of the world, and was used all over movies and TV. I liked Conditions a great deal, and with their second, eponymous album out soon, it seemed like a perfect show to go to.

It was pretty good. Mostly.

The Temper Trap

Look, if you’ve heard “Sweet Disposition”, which is likely, you’ve heard everything that’s fantastic about The Temper Trap: the joyous guitars, the upbeat rhythms, and Dougy Mandagi’s soul-lifting falsetto. But they’re a one-trick pony. It’s a very good trick, make no mistake. Listening to their first album at home is a great experience because if it starts sounding a bit familiar it slips into background music. But at a live show you want more than a one-trick pony.

I detect a little change in the new album’s songs, but it’s still quite similar. Each song heard on its own makes you think WOW THIS IS FANTASTIC. And it is. But each one’s a little too much like the last fantastic song you heard from them. Mandagi has just one wonderful, thrilling, uplifting mood when he sings. The Temper Trap is like Coldplay, but good.

One other quibble: the light show was big time overkill. There were lots, very bright, pure white, right behind the band, blasting right into our eyes. I love a good light show so I’m not being a fuddy-duddy here. Last night was distracting, annoying, painful, interruptive, and way too much.

I think that I was probably very spoiled by seeing the phenomenal Janelle Monae in the same hall a few days ago. That show was full of dynamics and showmanship.

I’ll continue to play The Temper Trap a lot at home. And I’d welcome them at a festival slot where I got just a handful of wonderful songs. But seeing them play such similar tunes song after song starts to have a numbing effect, which is unfortunate. I look forward to hearing their sound diversify further.

Check out a couple of the new songs from The Temper Trap below.