Broods are one band that live up to the name on the tin.
It’s two members are a brood, for starters. Singer-songwriter Georgia Nott and her elder brother, producer and multi-instrumentalist Caleb, emerged from Nelson on New Zealand’s south island in 2013, enjoying a global hit with their debut single Bridges.
That bittersweet song set the tone for the three albums which have followed, full of tunes that brood in the other sense of the word.
Take this night’s opener, Sucker from last year’s Don’t Feed The Pop Monster, which had Caleb coaxing moody synth lines from a rig of electronics, cousin Jono Nott playing a slow-boiling backwards drum beat, and Georgia’s clear, melancholic voice singing a fashion victim’s lament: “Tell me now, what’s the new black?/ Did it change while I was blinking?”
Ironically, the song highlighted Broods’ role as trendsetters themselves, co-creators of the template for downcast dance-pop which now dominates the charts in the form of Billie Eilish and Post Malone.
Broods’ influence was particularly clear on mid-set highlights Bridges and 2014’s L.A.F, both still sounding very 2020 in their smouldering intensity and multi-layered electronic atmospherics. They even threw in a nod to a fellow innovator from the first half of last decade, with an inspired mash-up of Gotye’s Hearts A Mess and Eyes Wide Open.
Distinctive as it is, Broods’ sound is difficult for only three people to reproduce live, and too many of this night’s songs were drenched in pre-recorded elements that had them sounding like the studio versions. Moments like Falling Apart were refreshing in light of this, with just Caleb’s rolling bass guitar line, his cousin’s unfussy drumming, and Georgia on keyboards and touchingly wistful vocals.
It’s a credit to Broods’ frontwoman, too, that it rarely felt like we were getting half a show despite the pre-ordained soundscape. No wonder she was wearing activewear – her Flashdance-inspired moves lit up even the less distinctive material, and helped bangers like Hospitalised and Everything Goes (Wow) fill the moshpit despite the heat in this harbourside amphitheatre.
Best of all was closer Peach, the 2018 floorfiller with a sense of light-and-shade rarely found in pop, and a hint that Broods’ days as trailblazers aren’t done yet.