Review: Golden Vessel at U Street Music Hall

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Golden Vessel, the project of Brisbane, Australia-based producer Max Byrne, delivered the perfect comedown from the Fourth of July weekend during his performance last Sunday. Throughout a set of ambient electronic tracks with nuanced hip-hop and R&B influences, Byrne mesmerized the intimate, enthusiastic crowd gathered at U Street Music Hall.

Though Golden Vessel have been recognized as a rising star by Australian music outlets like Triple J for several years, this is their first headlining North American tour. The only thing that gave this away was Byrne greeting his DC audience by saying, “good evening, Philadelphia,” then immediately correcting himself. In a strange way, this confusion makes sense — it’s easy to get lost in Golden Vessel’s immersive sound, which at times gives the feeling of being transported to a completely different atmosphere.

The band’s debut album, “SLOWSHINE,” is full of lo-fi tracks that effortlessly blend memory, unreality, and heavy beats to invoke a feeling of nostalgia. A glance at its track list shows several collaborators; Byrne has worked with other up-and-coming Australian artists to create an album larger than the sum of its parts. 

To do these collaborative tracks justice in a live setting, Byrne recruited his friend AKUREI to support on vocals and guitar throughout the tour. Set highlights included a cover of “Groceries” by fellow Aussie act Mallrat and the live debut of “HIGHWAY,” a gentle ballad that showcased AKUREI’s effortless falsetto.

Throughout the set, visuals from Golden Vessel’s music videos were projected behind the band and overlaid with shifting, multicolored patterns. This layering of the sonic and visual was a beautiful way to experience the tracks that heightened the ambient, introspective qualities of the music.

The show began to wind down when the band played “TENNOJI,” a track with a skittering beat and reflective lyrics about the passage of time. They closed out the set with popular single  “Shoulders” and its funky beat drop that had the crowd grooving.

This performance was an impressive, composed set that showed Byrne’s range and potential as both a vocalist and producer. See him on tour while he’s still playing smaller venues — you’ll be utterly immersed in a lush soundscape and in awe of his inventive take on lo-fi electronic music.

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Golden Vessel’s North American tour continues through early August. Find a full list of upcoming tour dates here.

Images courtesy of the artist.