girl in red’s live concert was far from a one-woman-show – it was the unwavering energy of the fans, the band, and Marie herself, that when combined created the perfect storm. ‘Do you listen to girl in red?’ – the colloquialism that has become part of mainstream queer culture was truly bought to life with the night boasting hand-drawn tattoos, candy necklaces and many sets of locked lips.
To warm up the eagerly awaiting crowd, many of whom had braved the concrete outside ‘Billboard’ nightclub for longer than ten hours, was Betty Taylor; the Sunshine Coast duo whose music has, until now, been an underground secret. The light blue wash over the two freestanding mics set the scene for the beautifully haunting harmonies that were to come. For the Indie pop rock band, fronted by Sophie Patrick and Kayla Smart, this was their first performance outside of their home state, a one-off, stripped back acoustic show. It would have been impossible to tell this was a first for the pair, as they delivered perfect synchronicity in both their vocals, and guitar accompaniment.
Lyrically, Betty Taylor was the perfect opening act for the young, queer crowd, as they sung heart-wrenching lyrics of love and loss. Lyrics such as ‘fuck you for forever hurting me’, sung in such smooth, calming tones felt straight out of a romance film, or music for walking in the rain. The heartache was universal.
Including snippets of relatable chit-chat with the crowd, the pair moved into Glitter and Bullshit, a song ‘about a man’, which was closely followed by a member of the crowd responding with ‘fuck men’. The interaction remained raw and playful from beginning to end.
The remainder of the set persisted as gorgeously modest, with dreamy, husky vocals and retro feel of electric guitar. Stalling, the first and only released Betty Taylor song left the crowd enchanted by the odd nostalgia, and the hypnotic way in which the pair moved with such synchronicity – as if they just knew how the music needed to be expressed in the body. Sweeping lights closed out the performance, illuminating the beautiful sea of humans who were now ready to share an extraordinary night together.
The heat of a thousand bodies grew from the back of the venue as Norwegian, indie pop singer-songwriter Marie Ulven Ringheim made her way to the stage. The opening night of the Australian leg of the If I Could Make It Go Quiet Tour, was about to kick off with an entirely sold-out show. The screams of the crowd were deafening as she made her way onto the stage, repetitively mumbling ‘Melbourne’. The room began to silence, adoring fans glued to her every move.
It all began with a violent hit of the drums – and suddenly the room erupted into absolute chaos. The deep, steady bass line of You Stupid Bitch rocking the room like a heartbeat working overtime. The indie-rock hit was the perfect way to kick off what was going to be a wild night, reminiscent of a 90s grunge band paired with deeply relatable lyrics about struggles with sexuality and mental health. The high energy of a room filled with passionate young people paired with frantic flashing lights was suggestive of the underlying themes of manic mental health. Marie left every piece of herself on stage from the absolute outset. Screaming the lyrics in unison with her fans and jumping until you could see the sweat rolling down her face, girl in red is a spectacle born for the stage.
It would be remiss not to mention the heat of the five-piece backing band that accompanied the entire length of the show. All just as high-energy as Marie herself, their musicality was both grunge and carefree, yet professional and melodic. The conclusion of the first song began what was a running theme of the show – a juxtaposing jump between feverish performance and casual conversation. The contrast of her hilarious rambles in a dimly lit room and the rockstar present during the songs showed the versatility of girl in red’s performance and the likely reason behind the passion of her adoring fans.
Following the energy of the first song, girls did not disappoint. Hearing the certified gold single live for the first time would have been a long time coming for this room of young queer women. The unashamed lyrics dealing with coming to terms with sexuality are a breath of fresh air in today’s heteronormative society.
A beautiful change of pace, ‘.’ was played largely acoustically, with a kick drum accompaniment. An absolute stand-out lyrically, the words ‘It’s been so hard ever since you broke my heart’ are universal and were clearly shared by all who were lucky enough to be singing them. During We Fell in Love in October there was a deepening of connection between Marie and the crowd as the room fell silent, mumbling ‘my girl, my girl, you will be my girl’. To have a room of a thousand people at your fingertips is the work of a true artist.
A change of pace came with the next set of songs as we were instructed to ‘pretend it’s sunny outside and we’re at a festival’; and it did indeed feel that way with everyone giving themselves fully to the music during I’ll Call You Mine, and the following ‘song about being horny’ hornylovesickness. The obedience of the crowd in waving their arms in unison and singing every lyric was all in the lead up to the final portion of the show.
The song Serotonin was beautifully poetic, as the crowd was filled head to toe with the hormone; a complete contradiction to the lyrics ‘I’m running low on serotonin’. At this point Marie was ready to literally throw herself into the crowd, stage diving into the arms of her fans during bad idea! – bringing a level of energy to the tracks that cannot be replicated without this high level of interaction.
The set closed out with midnight love and Did You Come? before the last hurrah; a wall of death during i wanna be your girlfriend. Marie left the crowd with all they could have wanted, jumping into the mosh pit and dancing through the entire song alongside her adoring fans, who she then soaked with her drink bottle before a well-deserved mic drop.
Being covered in water, sweat and copious amounts of glitter – a night at girl in red is one which audiences will take home with them… literally.
Be sure to catch girl in red in their final Australian performances at Laneway festival:
Brisbane Feb 4
Sydney Feb 5
Adelaide Feb 10
Melbourne Feb 11
Perth Feb 12
Tickets available here