Pond Lee's Palace, Toronto ON, October 21

Pond Lee's Palace, Toronto ON, October 21
Photo: Shane Parent
Pond's association with fellow Aussie left-coasters Tame Impala — they've shared several members over the years — is both a blessing and a curse. Yet as their most recent and most widely distributed album Hobo Rocket proved, Pond are a wholly different beast.

Touching down in Toronto on a short North American tour, the group wasted no time further justifying that argument. The five-piece strutted onto Lee's elevated stage and launched into "Whatever Happened to the Million Head Collide?" and by the song's first half time breakdown – with drummer Jay Watson's arms waving high in the air – all thoughts of that other band were gone. "You gonna help us get super loose tonight?" asked Watson. The audience responded with a resounding "yes."

On Pond's records, the mess of sounds bleeding into one another offer a beguiling window into the band's multitude of influences. They became more defined on stage as singer-guitarist Nick Allbrook led the band through cuts from their most recent releases, including selections from their just-announced new record. But just when it seems like you've got Pond's musical box ready — '60s psych, '70s glam — another element is added to the pastiche, taking the songs into new directions.

There are certainly similarities between the band's music and early Flaming Lips, before the fearless freaks fell under Brian Wilson's spell. But Pond's precision, clean sound and ability to build their music up to the highest peaks only to bring it crashing down on their audience (as they did on "Fantastic Explosion of Time") belies their shambolic image. Pond know they're good, but the quintet appeared genuinely surprised to discover that the small but dedicated crowd agreed.

"You Broke My Cool," a nice slice of glam-era Bowie on record, was injected with a healthy dose of soul near the end of their surprisingly short set. They dispensed with the formalities of an encore and moved right into their epic "Frond," leaving the stage with their instruments still pulsing. It's a good bet Pond won't need to trade on their brother band's name on their next trek through town.

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