Australian indie electronic trio Mansionair made a stop in Toronto at The Velvet Underground on March 26th, 2019 while touring their first full-length album, Shadowboxer.
Brooklyn-based duo Beacon kicked off the show in a largely fitting and atmospheric way by cutting all the venue lights and relying solely on looped projections across the stage as visuals. This darkness quickly enforced the mood for the evening, as the sound took over our senses with a subtlety of waves and patterns flushed over their artists’ faces and instruments.
Having never seen Mansionair live before, the anticipation was met with many questions that follow electronic bands. With such depth instrumentally, how much can really be played live? I was quickly assured once they started playing that everything they do on stage follows a live band structure.
Lead vocalist Jack Froggatt creates a special place for Mansionair to exist in the realm of electronic music today. His songwriting is deep and dynamic, and his voice has both tones of power and fragility. There is an overwhelming amount of precision and intention that goes into the way their music sounds that is all about experience. For many artists, the visual element of performing is a necessary aspect of their live set and connection with fans, but with Mansionair, the sound almost makes you want to step back and remove the human element, allowing yourself to focus more on feeling the lyrics and the beat. The band’s energy is, by all means, great to watch, but their sound serves as an escape for many people that becomes more personal.
They started strong with tracks like Alibi and Falling, before diving into an anthemic version of Easier mid-set, which became a standout favourite of the night. Jack gave up his guitar for this track, becoming a more mobilized frontman with his mic. He had the whole room chanting “tell me it gets easier” back to him as he spun around the stage feeling every moment. He mentioned how rowdy the crowd was for a Tuesday night, but that didn’t discredit their attentiveness.
Mansionair ended on a high note with Astronaut, which has gotten significant radio play in the city over the last few months. Their album has a collection of songs you can get lost in, and Astronaut serves as one of those late night driving songs perfectly. With percussion intricacies, impactful multi-instrumentalism and soaring vocals, Mansionair proves that electronic music is much more than pyro and beat drops. With narrative songwriting about the human condition, they’re paving the way for electronic music to blur into many other genres as they keep expanding the power of sound.
Words and photos by Morgan Hotston