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[Review] Slayyyter @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 27/04/2023

Review By Nikki Eenink

Apparently, the city is The Place to Be on a Thursday night. As we arrive to 170 Russell to see queer hyperpop icon Slayyyter, we are cut off by police tape and huge crowds. Eventually we find our way into the venue, walking single file with a group of people dressed for a night of dancing, kicking-on to clubs and cute Instagram photos. Everyone is looking on point tonight. Walking into 170 Russel is a trip; a long, dark stairwell descends into the basement, illuminated by glowing purple lights, guiding us down to Prophecy Girl’s opening set. We follow like fish to luminescent coral.

I am nothing if not an Ethel Cain stan. Her album, Preacher’s Daughter is moody, cathartic and emotional – not exactly clubbing material. As my feet touch the ground, free from their stairwell-induced-trance, through the pumping bass and hyper-pop sensibilities, I realise Prophecy Girl has mixed Cain’s successful single – Crush, into an extravaganza of good vibes. It dawns on me that this is going to be a night for anyone, of any musical persuasion, to relish in and enjoy. Prophecy Girl is a Melbourne-based DJ and artist who defines themselves as “Naarm based vampire slayer”. They are certainly dressed for the occasion. Red hair pulled into spikes, metal-looking sleeves leave a bare chest exposed, and leather pants and boots are something out of ‘The Matrix’ trilogy. Prophecy Girl recently opened for other Queer heavy-hitters; Charli XCX and Daine. They are clearly cementing themselves as a hyper-pop icon, just in time for their national headline tour. Through the smoke and deep-blue lights, Prophecy Girl brings out another sad-girl classic, Ethel Cain’s horrifically sad track, House in Nebraska. But this mix isn’t sad. It’s a delight. The crowd is jumping and singing along as if the track had always been made for dancing. Prophecy Girl is a legend, a master of genre-bending. Playing through a playlist to send any Tumblr-era teen down a tunnel of nostalgia – remixing everything from Lana Del Rey to Paramore, my heart is so happy, the vibes are high, the anticipation grows ever-stronger for the night’s headliner. 

Our headliner for the night is Slayyyter, the alias of Missouri-born pop sensation Catherine Grace Garner. She’s known for her fashion, raunchy raps and undeniable bangers, and tonight she is not disappointing. She struts on stage as the lights change from blue to red, wearing a corset and striped pants – like sexy, confident and fashion-forward Beetlejuice (this is a compliment of the highest degree). Immediately we are taken into Slayyyter’s world. The only way I can explain it is like taking MDMA. Everything is fast, sparkly, outrageously fun and captivating. 170 Russel is suddenly packed, a sea of bodies sticking together from the sweat, throwing their arms up and dancing with reckless abandon.

About halfway through the set, Slayyyter takes a water break to talk to us and slow things down a little. She has some advice, “Something I’ve learned in life as a star, is you don’t have time for boys or love or those things. All you have time for is to work or to party. Do you guys know how to party? Well I’m going to show you how we party in Hollywood.” Then we are thrown into I Love Hollywood! In the final chorus, she changes some of the lyrics for us;

I love Hollywood / I love Melbourne more though

This is her second tour in Australia and, in her own words, “That makes me feel fucking famous. I love all of you.” And she is showered with gifts on stage; A hello-kitty keychain, a bracelet – whatever token of affection her devoted fans had picked out for her.

Every song from Touch My Body to Mine is going off, and people are going hard. The dancing is infectious, your body has to move, not dettered by spilled Amyl or the undeniable smell of weed. Debauchery is encouraged here. After all, is this not the time to party? Throatzilla is a crowd favourite, the ridiculous lyrics and vein-pumping bass (courtesy of Garner’s DJ – Owen Jackson) bringing out the best in us.

The absolute highlight of the night for me was the closing song, Daddy as Fuck. The energy was dropping while we waited, anxiously, for an encore. But as soon as Garner feels that, she barks that we have to give this everything we have, before launching into a rockier, grittier, heavier mix of Daddy as Fuck. People start going crazy, suddenly packed with fresh energy, as if the set had just started.

I left Slayyyter drenched in sweat,ears ringing, but beaming ear-to-ear and desperate for more.

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[Review] Meg Mac @ The Gov, Adelaide 27/04/2023

Review By Suze Blacketer

Adelaide has not been short of musical choice lately. This week, coming to us from The Gov, it was the incredible Meg Mac, touring her latest album ‘Matter of Time’.

Starting our evening Ayesha Madon delighted the crowd with her pop peppered songs. A quick Q&A with the crowd revealed that this was Ayesha’s first tour. Even more surprising was that her drummer is actually her brother-in-law, and they were playing together for the first time on this tour.

Starting with one of her earlier releases, Outside of the Party, she bopped around on the stage while engaging with the crowd.  Sucked In saw her relax a bit more and Ayesha looked to relax more as the show went on.

Talking to us between songs, Ayesha was open in how her songs talk about mental health issues and how that is something that she is passionate about. Goldfish and Cloud played as those on the floor moved their bodies. Wanting to play a song that the crowd could get around and sing along to, we were treated to a cover of The Climb by Miley Cyrus. All those Hannah Montanna fans got around this one. Showing her prowess on the keyboard and the guitar, Ayesha Madon is someone to keep your eye on as she continues to produce great tunes.

Gratitude for the crowd that had come early to watch her set, Ayesha finished with Future Kinks.

Wall to wall people packed the venue as Meg Mac glided across the stage enshrouded in a sparkling cape. The opening notes of the title track of her album float across the room, the crowd cheering in anticipation. Meg Mac’s silky, emotional vocals wash over us, and the goosebumps begin. Following on with Turning bodies begin to sway and little pockets of space become the place to dance.

Meg greets the crowd and thanks them for coming, saying how she was sorry that she didn’t get to come here on her last tour. The crowd gave an audible sigh as Meg went on to say how it broke her heart to read the comments and thanked us for selling out this show. This album is a special one as is the tour. As Meg explained she took so long to make this album, writing a complete album only to throw it in the bin and go on to write Matter Of Time.

Something In The Water, which Meg tells us is one of her favourites off the album, is a beautiful powerful song and it is delivered as such. Every face was mesmerized, witnessing something magically spellbinding. Such meaningful and relatable lyrics. Give Me My Name Back and Meg tells a story about how they like to sit on the edge of the stage when singing this one but tonight they couldn’t as we wouldn’t see them! They tried stools but it felt like a Q&A session, so they stood. A beautiful moment at the end of this song was a sisterly hug that had the crowd smiling.

Don’t You Cry was one of my favourite moments from the evening, it is such a beautiful song. Moving on to the Like A Version songs that Meg has done, she tells the story of how she placed a poll on Instagram to see which one we wanted to hear. Sadly, someone booed her on the Sydney leg because they wanted Bridges and got Tame Impala’s Let It Happen which I think was an excellent choice!

Meg tells us how hard it is when you release new music as you need to say goodbye to some of the songs in your setlist and how she had put another poll on Instagram to see what people wanted to hear, surprised that Brooklyn Apartment was requested. She told the story of how she wrote this song while living in an apartment in Brooklyn that had paper thin walls, writing about the people who lived in the building.

Meg’s favourite part of the evening was playing the song Letter, telling us that she spent hours writing the letters to send to all the fans, everyone one of them kissed by her and the constant reapplying of lipstick to make it happen. She also told the story behind the song, of writing a letter to someone no longer in her life and it ended up becoming a song, and how she writes letters to strangers instead!

 Known Better and Roll Up Your Sleeves finishing the evening with the clayton’s encore – Meg telling us she chickened out from leaving the stage in case we didn’t clap for her to come back so she just played them!

Meg Mac in a small intimate venue is a magical experience, sprinkled with stories and anecdotes about the songs. I know every audience member truly appreciated how special our evening was.

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[Review] Smashing Pumpkins @ PICA, Melbourne 22/04/2023

Review By Noah Redfern

I was blessed to witness this weekend’s A World Is A Vampire on Saturday. A mini fest stacked with alternative legends of now and then, and headlined by the 90s legends The Smashing Pumpkins.

Featuring the insane lineup of Battlesnake, Amyl and the Sniffers and Janes Addiction, along with sets of pro wrestling between each act, the energy was unreal at Port Melbourne’s PICA warehouse venue. It was a blessing to see such legends of alternative arena rock play a more intimate location rather than catching a glimpse of Billy Corgan from the back of Rod Laver.

When I arrived just before the first act, I took in the vibe and demographic of the gig. Not as many young people as I expected, it was mainly 30-to-50 somethings. Not heavy on the moshing, but prominent on the hearing protection. Experienced rockers, still trying to save their ears from tinnitus in their 60s. Wise moves millennials, wise moves.

Cracking open the night with their bizarre but ripping take on hard rock and chugging thrash, Battlesnake blew the lid wide open on the evening’s affairs. A 7-piece rock band, with guitars a plenty, a keytar and a set of hilarious priest costumes for all. The lead singer led the pack wearing devil horns over his priest robes and laughed maniacally with every song title announcement. Singing stories of dragons, rituals, kings of old, the underworld and death, the band was heavy metal fun for all. Fans of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard will feel the bite of Battlesnake. My favourite track was The Atomic Plough, followed closely by self-titled track The Battlesnake.

After that great tone setter, I checked out the wrestling going on just outside the venue in the food truck area. I had no choice but to see what the fuss was all about, as the moment the band finished the match announcers started playing over the stage PA, so off I was to ringside viewing. The National Wresting Alliance or NWA (USA) vs the Wrestling Alliance of Australia (WAOA) was the name of the game today, and this translated to a lot of booing at Americans and then watching them get slammed. In the vein of the WWE, this is Kayfabe wrestling. This is about the drama and the fun, and boy were our wrestlers good sports. I haven’t laughed or cheered so hard at sport since I was a kid. I had no idea what was going on but I loved it.

Next, we caught Melbourne based pub rock legends, Amyl and the Sniffers. This was not my first time catching the future hall of famers but will never be my last. Sometimes I honestly catch myself wondering if Amy Taylor is the secret love child of Debbie Harry and Bon Scott, but alas. The pure stage presence on display from our favourite frontwoman as always gives you no choice buy to chant along and give her an ear-to-ear grin every time she sticks her tongue out or bangs her head. A lovely set, we caught classics from earlier years like Balaclava Lover Boogie, mid careers bangers like Some Mutts (Can’t Be Muzzled) and modern favourites like Hertz and showstopper Security.

After Amyl we saw LA alt rock favourites Jane’s Addiction. Giving us a blend of hits and deep cuts, singer Perry Farrell and company indulged us in some seriously heavy grunge jamming. Some tracks launched into extended versions, with dancers coming on stage to show us some hardcore acrobatics while the band burnt down the house. A deeply captivated audience, fans nodded along the whole way through, loving every moment. Favourites of the set included Whores, Summertime Rolls and the awesome closer of Ocean Size.

When our glorious headliners finally took the stage to close out the night, The Smashing Pumpkins started out strong. Jumping into Empires, a heavy as hell track off their latest album ATUM – Act I & II released this January. Immediately after we were thrown back into Pumpkins’ golden era of the mid 90s with the one-two punch of Bullet With Butterfly Wings and Today. Man, those two songs blew my mind to hear them live. Sounding better than ever, better than the record, just absolutely hot and heavy.

The band then moved in into a set mixed between several covers of classic artists like Talking Heads and The Church, along with some deep cuts from records old and new. Their cover of Once In A Lifetime was like a stoner doom nightmare version of David Byrne’s weird and wacky monologue. Some moments in between left something to be desired, with some truly awkward inter-band discussions making the crowd feel equally strange.

An intimate, acoustic version of Tonight, Tonight from 1995’s Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness was a true highlight of the night’s set. The emotion on display was truly moving, and the stripped back version left the perfect amount of room in the mix for Billy Corgan’s vocals to soar through.

The classic melter of Cherub Rock from 1993’s Siamese Dream, my favourite Smashing Pumpkins album, was possibly the only contentious point for me during the set. Unfortunately, the raw distortion of the track made the sound a bit hard to distinguish, and so I was left a bit disappointed in the mix for a moment, but the amazing song was impossible to ruin.

The unforgettable 1979 was an amazing singalong moment for the crowd, with fans young and old screaming every word. And of course, we couldn’t forget Zero either, another Pumpkins classic.

Closing the show with Silverfuck, although an interesting choice, ended the night with heavy riffs just as it had begun.

Overall, The World Is A Vampire festival was a true blessing to fans of alternative and heavy music, and was just fantastic to catch at a smaller warehouse venue instead of a giant corporate arena. I felt truly connected with the artists I saw, and the curation of the lineup along with the wrestling as a fun activity between bands made for a rad time at the rock show. In Corgan’s words: Today is the greatest day I’ve ever known

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[Review] Papa Roach / The Used @ Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne 24/04/2023

Review By Lynda Buchanan

It was a warm Monday night in Melbourne, and while most people may have been preparing for a quiet evening at home, the music lovers of the city had other plans. They were flocking to Margaret Court Arena to witness a double headline show with two of the most influential bands in the emo/punk rock genre – The Used and Papa Roach.  

The Used and Papa Roach are veteran names in the industry and have amassed a devoted fan base that has been with them for over twenty years. The fact that they are sharing the stage for a double headline show is a testament to their lasting popularity and remarkable musical talent. As the venue filled up with eager fans, the excitement in the air was thick. 

Taking the stage to kick off the night were the energetic Japanese rockers, coldrain. Making their long-awaited return to Australia after an eight-year hiatus. Having never witnessed coldrain before, I was immediately drawn to lead singer Masato Hayakawa, his vocal range is truly amazing. The band treated the audience to an energetic setlist, showcasing tracks from their latest album, Nonnegative, as well as fan favourites from The Side Effects and The Revelation.  

coldrain’s performance set the perfect tone for the evening, effectively warming up the crowd and leaving a lasting impression. Proving why they were the ideal choice to open the show. Here is hoping we don’t have to wait another 8 years to see these musicians again.  

After a brief intermission, the excitement in the room heightened as The Used, took to the stage. They opened their set with Take It Away, a crowd favourite from their album In Love and Death, and the band was met with an outpouring of cheers. 

McCracken reminded the audience that at a Used emo show, they were allowed to be themselves, and nobody would judge them. He then launched into Blow Me, which had the crowd dancing and singing along. The circle pits were in full swing as the band played their music, and the crowd was more than willing to participate. When the familiar sounds of The Used new single from their upcoming album, Toxic Positivity, called F**k You rang out across the venue, the audience joined Bret and stuck their middle fingers in the air. 

Taste Of Ink was followed by the slower All That I’ve Got, which had the crowd singing along with full vigour. The band took a moment to celebrate the birthday of their lighting guy, Jeff, with a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday, which included a humorous ending with McCracken claiming it was his birthday too! 

The audience was treated to The Used’s latest single, Numb, with Bert giving them an unusual request – to boo instead of cheer at the end of the song. The crowd found it amusing and gladly complied. 

Jacoby Shaddix from Papa Roach took the stage by surprise to perform Blood On My Hands alongside Bert, and you could see all the phones go up throughout the audience to capture this surprise appearance forever. The band’s guitarist, Joey Bradford, showcased his skills with an incredible solo during the performance of Pretty Handsome Awkward. A request from the audience that McCracken, do a shoey. To which of course he obliged, catching the shoe that was thrown on stage and filling it with Red Bull before chugging it down. The crowd cheered and laughed in approval, adding to the overall high energy of the night. 

As the set drew to a close, the band rocked out to A Box Full Of Sharp Objects, giving drummer Dan Whitesides the opportunity to show off his drumming expertise. The set culminated in a mashup with Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, leaving the audience pumped and energized. 

McCracken finished the show with a bang, hurling himself into the crowd and ending the epic performance on a high note. The audience was now nice and warmed up, ready for the Papa Roach

Excited yells rang though the air as the lights dimmed, and Jacoby Shaddix led Papa Roach onto the stage. A giant white cockroach loomed over the black backdrop behind them, and without missing a beat, the band launched into Kill the Noise from their newest release EGO TRIP, and it was crystal clear that Melbourne had missed Papa Roach dearly. 

As Jacoby launched into Getting Away With Murder, he asked the audience, “Melbourne, how the f**k are you feeling tonight?” and the crowd erupted in cheers. As Jerry Horton shredded out his solo, Jacoby continued, “Let me see those horns in the f**king sky!” Shaddix declared how rock n roll saved him, and it was clear from the crowd’s reaction that many of them felt the same way. 

Another new song Cut The Line from the new album EGO TRIP was next. Jacoby explained that he wrote the song with the mosh pit in mind. “F**k yeah, it feels amazing to play that new shit,” Jacoby exclaimed, grinning from ear to ear as the crowd cheered and began to headbang in unison. 

In  nod to their musical influences, the band played The Prodigy’s Firestarter and the Ramones’ Hey Ho Let’s Go intro before launching into I Wanna Be Loved as Jacoby took the chance to connect with the crowd and ventured out into the seated section of the audience, managing to navigate the entire venue while singing to and along with the crowd.  

Upon returning to the stage, Jacoby took a moment to deliver an uplifting message of hope and resilience, telling the crowd. “Show up for yourselves every day, you are worth it, no matter what your head says to you, no matter what the world says to you. That’s a fact, y’all!” and that pain is only temporary. The audience were clearly moved as the band played Scars while everyone lit up Margaret Court Arena with a sea of phone lights.  

The stage was ignited with energy as Bert McCracken made a surprise appearance during No Apologies. His unique vocal style and vibrant stage presence complemented Jacoby’s seamlessly. However, the collaborations didn’t stop there. Recently, Papa Roach concluded their much-anticipated Amazing Things tour in the UK, where they shared the stage with fellow rockers, Don Broco. As luck would have it, Don Broco will also be touring Australia very soon and had arrived early. So, to the delight of the Melbourne crowd, Rob Damiani joined Papa Roach for Between Angels & Insects. This was an amazing opportunity for Rob to give the audience a taste of what they will be seeing next week, and I have no doubt there were a few ticket sales as “Bobby Damage” left it all on the stage and earnt Don Broco new fans across Melbourne. 

As the sounds of Last Resort echo across the arena, the crowd becomes even more frenzied, if that was even possible. The audience screams the lyrics of the chorus back in unison and Jacoby stands back and takes it all in, basking in the moment. This is the magic of live music, and it’s a beautiful thing to witness. 

In that fleeting moment, as the band took their final bow, the appreciation was thick in the air, both from the performers and crowd. It was an unspoken agreement that each had given their all, leaving nothing behind. The audience departed with hearts brimming with happiness, their souls nourished by the events that they had just witnessed. 

It’s not uncommon for artists who have been around for a while, particularly those who have made their mark in the emo and pop-punk scenes, to be written off as being past their prime. But the performances by The Used and Papa Roach proved beyond any doubt that they still have what it takes to captivate a crowd and leave them wanting more. 

Their new music is just as powerful and relevant as their past hits, proving that these bands are far from being mere nostalgia acts. It was an amazing night that showcased the lasting appeal and talent of these two incredible bands, leaving the Melbourne crowd begging for more. 

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