I Know Leopard have to be my favourite band of 2019. Their standout debut album, titled after the mammoth 2018 single ‘Love Is A Landmine’, catapulted them to new heights, showcasing their musical genius in drawing on inspiration from Electric Light Orchestra, MGMT, and, my personal idol, John Lennon. I was also fortunate enough to interview frontman Luke O’Loughlin about the album earlier this year for Forte and his sheer passion, enthusiasm and determination for the project was clear, not to mention he is a genuinely lovely guy. Those two factors alone made I Know Leopard high on my radar, but it was their live show that positioned the group on the Best Band of 2019 throne.
For a cold and wet night in late May, I Know Leopard brought the heat with their bold looks and poptastic fusion. With opening sets from local legends ZUMA and the pop powerhouse Wallace, the five piece touring band took to the stage with the two ladies, Jenny (keys, violin and vocals) and Rosie (bass) rocking matching red jumpsuits with heart zipper rings on their breast pockets and silver platform sneakers, and Luke and their fill in guitarist (for Todd who was notably absent) decked out in full Vanish-white outfits, though I don’t think the drummer got the memo though with his more casual take on the outfit. With their silver glitter war-paint highlighting their cheekbones and their attire matching their slick white key and synth decks with its neon red strip, I Know Leopard did not hesitate, launching straight into instrumental piece ‘Mums and Dads of Satanists’. It was soon followed by the athematic ‘Heather’, with album tracks been spat out continuously for the remainder of the set. ‘1991’, ‘Seventy Lies’, ‘All That She Cared About’, and ‘Blame It On Me’ were major grooves while ‘Evergreen’ sprinkled some spacey dust over the crowd with the harmonies from Luke, Jenny and Rosie being ever so angelic. ‘Landmine’ appeared early on in the set and hit just as hard as every time Triple J breaky boy, Liam Stapleton, pulled it into their morning rotation. ‘Shiver Yourself Warm’ and ‘Epica’ were showcase pieces for O’Loughlin’s stunning (and record accurate) vocals.
I Know Leopard pulled no smoke and mirror moves with their set, no silly stage exits for encores, and no extraneous anecdotes to fill time. They finished up with album standout, John Lennon eat-your-heart-out track, ‘Everything Goes With You’, with those Mind Games piano chords and the soaring violin from Jenny to sweep you off your feet, and had a picture perfect end with ‘Perfect Picture’.
This set was a raw showcase of talent and exuded passion, leaving me with a couple of thoughts. Firstly, that of utter admiration for I Know Leopard as I’ve detailed above. Secondly, I now have a burning desire to learn violin thanks to the stunning arrangements and delivery from Jenny. The third thought is a little more disheartening. As much praise as I can give to the band there was one wildly disappointing aspect of the evening that needs to be addressed. This gig was not a sell out show. The lack of people in the room was alarming for a 150 capacity space, particularly for a band that should garner more well-deserved attention. It was a real reflection of how much we need to support live music so that amazing bands like I Know Leopard return to our regional areas!
In saying that though, it did not discourage anyone in the room from having a great night. A special shoutout goes to the girl standing front and centre wearing the black and white checker shirt. Thank you for singing every lyric to every song, for dancing the entire night, for recognising the brilliance that is I Know Leopard, and for truly embodying the meaning of live music.
For all of you that didn’t go, let this be a reminder to get out to gigs rail, hail or shine because you might just miss the best gig of 2019 by the best band in 2019.
Workers Club Geelong
Thursday 23 May 2019
Reviewed by Tammy Walters