BADBADNOTGOOD’s live concert could have gone two ways. It could have been a frenetic bout of hip-hop influenced jazz. Or, giving how tightly reigned in their latest album ‘IV’ is, the boys could have showed off their jazz-cat coolness, with a slick, sophisticated set. It was both. BBNG’s Sydney show at ‘The Metro’ was a melding of eruptive energy with a masterly restraint practiced only by the best in jazz.
The first half of the show was a deep plunge into a chaotic sea of jazz that energised the crowd fantastically. It wasn’t until half way through the show that BBNG played the much loved songs off ‘IV’. And even then songs like ‘Confessions Pt. II’ and ‘Lavender’ were played with wildly extended codas and diversions. The boys let us in on a fantastic jam session, with each band member having their moment to bend the audience’s mind with a manic solo spree. When each had their solo, the rest would lounge on the stage floor, shoes off, watching admiringly like the rest of us, as their band member exploded with sonic greatness.
The band’s drummer Alex Sowinski displayed a warm, welcoming showmanship, reminding the audience now and again of being present and embracing the spirit of the night. Several times during the show Sowinski also got the audience to scream as loud as they could, and as the crowd roared the energy soared. I had goosebumps.
Towards the end of the night, BBNG welcomed a good friend, Sydney musician/producer Jonti onto the stage. What ensued was a heartwarming rendition of The Beach Boys’ ‘God Only Knows’. What made the song especially moving was Sowinski’s stage banter about tough political times and daily struggles. It proved to be the tenderest moment of the night, but it didn’t render any of the rapture and energy the boys had worked so hard to create.
With ‘IV’ BBNG demonstrated that they are a modern jazz band with the skill and strength to stay relevant and become possibly the most successful band in their league. But their show at the metro shows they’re still just a bunch of guys jamming out, soaking it up and doing this thing called life.