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[Review] Boston Manor & Movements @ Croxton Hotel, Melbourne 19/03/2023

At first, I was hesitant of going to a late-night gig on a Sunday night. Afterwards, I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend a night. I left The Croxton sweaty, red-faced with sore feet, but feeling oh-so alive and energised. What a treat it was to see emo heavy-weights Boston Manor and Movements back-to-back, with strong support from underground Australian gem, Bad Juju.

Walking into The Croxton, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the venue so full for a support act. The room is alive and buzzing, Bad Juju hyping them up so much it’s unreal. A pit is open in the middle of the mosh, and young men are throwing punches and kicks into the air. Bad Juju bark out a single instruction; “Bang your fucking heads”, before launching into Disappoint. The five-piece are absolutely killing it on instrumentals, working very much as a unit, and it shows. Finishing with Bloom, from their first EP Hidden Desire, they left that room hungry for more. Expect big things from these Melbourne hardcore beginners in the years to come.

Next up are Blackpool natives, Boston Manor. Even at soundcheck, the drums are so loud I swear my eardrums are about to burst. The stage is suddenly bathed in red and orange light, and they play the haunting, titular track of their newest release, Datura. There’s a “calm before the storm” energy flowing in that room. We all know it’s about to go hard, but when? Boston Manor have us completely under a spell. Front-man Henry Cox is not one to mess around. As the song draws to a close, he screams into the microphone, “Melbourne! Take some steps forward. Come on! Come on! Let’s fucking go!” He is giving us everything he can, hair sticking to the sides of his face already. The crowd seem a little hesitant to go full-out, and Cox can sense that, and won’t stand for it. “I know it’s a Sunday, but wake the fuck up, it’s the last day of tour. Open up a pit in the middle. First person to mosh wins a free t-shirt!” And then, he repeats again, “Let’s fuckin go!” They wind their way through Datura, the crowd is starting to go crazy. Halfway through the set Cox takes a minute to address us again, “This next song features an Australian, John Floreani.” Floreani comes onstage to sing Liquid with them. Having gone to high school in Newcastle, I have a deep love for Floreani (maybe our most valuable export), and audibly gasp. There is a chill in the room, and we all stand very still, in amazement. The crowd cheers along with me when the track finishes, and then immediately start yelling “Shooey! Shooey! Shooey!” Cox quickly shuts us down; “God, so original you Australians. John said if you do one once, you’ll be made to do it every time. I’ve never done one, and I never will.” And so, with some mumbling and grumbling, we settle down. The standout moment of Boston Manor’s set is the track, You, Me and the Class War. “A lot of our music is inspired by where we’re from.” Blackpool is the worst city in England for poverty, and so the political rage and personal-nature of the song, come out of the band with such intensity and ferocity – like they are starting a revolution in that room. Halfway through the song, right before the screamy, heavy and intense bridge, Cox takes a minute to once again bark instructions at us.

“Alright, I need you to split this room in half.”

We all know what’s coming – The Wall of Death.

“I promise you, it’s fun. A few rules,

  1. Don’t be a dick
  2. Care about each other. If someone falls pick them back up.

And the secret third rule,

  1. Have a lot of fucking fun”

It’s immediately clear to me that the band cares deeply about safety and respect at their shows. I have always found emo and hardcore moshes to be wonderful spaces of unity, community and controlled aggression. At the front of The Wall are some big guys, shirtless, and some of the smallest gothic girls in Hellraiser platform boots. Worthy opponents.

Then, the build starts.

This ain’t love / This is a class war.

People shuffle from foot-to-foot, ready.

This ain’t love/ THIS IS A CLASS WAR.

Cox screams into the microphone, lights strobe, and the crowd runs, full-force into each other. It’s electrifying. Any reservation or fatigue we felt at the start of the night is gone. We are going for it with everything we have – and so are they. They finish with a reminder to buy merch from smaller bands, to go to local gigs, to keep having nights as thrilling as these, we have to keep independent music alive.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Movements’ front-man, Patrick Miranda. He was very chatty, introspective, sensitive and calm when we spoke. I’ve been a fan of Movements since their conception, and I knew this was going to be a special night for me, and for everyone. We were in Miranda’s hands, and I trusted him to take us for one hell of a ride.

I wasn’t wrong.

The Orange County band comes onstage. Miranda steps forward and grabs the microphone, “You know what Australia is known for? Going fucking crazy at shows. I need you to move up, move up, move up. Fill this room up and get ready to show me what you can do.” I’m now three rows from the front, sticking to the people around me, toes crushed, and electrified.

They start off strong with Third Degree and wind their way through a collage of songs from their various releases. Bookmarking the set, was new release, Cherry Thrill. It’s pop-ier than their previous songs, but Miranda was delighted about trying out a new sound for the band when I spoke with him. The crowd was not disappointed by the change. People were dancing at a hardcore show; spinning, and singing along. Next up, was Full Circle. A favourite of mine, and the rest of the crowds. Whatever space and reprieve we had before was gone. We were now clamouring over each other to scream these lyrics at the band. Miranda turns the mic towards us, and a wave of sound echoes back at him.

Without a struggle there can’t be progress/ ‘Til it comes around again

Miranda has openly struggled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Depression, but expressed his reluctance with me to become a “martyr” or a “spokesperson” for mental illness. He is not a martyr to us; he is one of us. Movement’s lyrics understand us, all of the feelings we think we have to face alone. As I scream with a chorus of other voices, all of them heavy with feeling, heavy with the pain and grief and love and redemption; I realise I am not alone. That is the power of Miranda’s lyricism and of Movements musicianship.

 It comes in waves/ and I’m pulled below/ It’s not subjective, it’s clinical

 I love very few things the way I love Daylily, the iconic track from Movements 2017 release; Feel Something. The track was released in my last year of high school, and I’ve spent many years since screaming those words into my pillow or in the car. It helped me through those years of being very young, very angry and very sad, and brought me here – still young, but only a little angry and a little sad. I’ve never known someone who shares my same affinity for Feel Something. And then, suddenly, I was in the middle of it. Surrounded by other sweaty bodies, jostling, and jumping, all of us turning red, giving ourselves tinnitus, and bursting veins to scream along:

But the sunrise will come again/ And you’ll be just fine / You’ll be just fine.

 We are such a chorus, in fact, that lead-singer Patrick Miranda, points the microphone to us several times during the song, a little grin coming onto his face. He grabs an old-school video camera to film the crowd, and I see people’s hands turned into hearts, boys trying to crowd-surf, and everyone pushing as far forward as humanly possible. We are a single body.

When Movements finish, and the night is done, the song A Thousand Miles by Vanessa Carlton starts playing. Its piano intro is so silly, the song itself basically a meme. And I am so emotional seeing all these people; goths, business wear dads, surfer bros and any other members of the rag-tag crew that was there tonight. All of them, with tears down their face, drenched in sweat and emotional liberation, sing along to such a silly song. They hold hands and link arms and skip or kiss each other on the cheek. I am overwhelmed with joy. I don’t think I’ve ever had sweeter dreams.

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[Review] Mom Jeans @ Corner Hotel, Melbourne 12/03/2023

I was blessed with a treat for my inner teenager this week. Opening the night at The Corner Hotel was Suzi, a fairly new heavy hitter in Melbourne’s growing angry-girl-rock scene. Following on her heels was new emo fixture, Microwave. Then, after a night of high-energy dancing and cheering, comes Mom Jeans, the Pasadena natives who wrote the soundtrack of many people’s adolescence.

Suzi very much embodies contemporary Melbourne. She is an anti-folk newcomer, following in the footsteps of Australian icons, Camp Cope and Courtney Barnett. One of the things I love most about Suzi is how strongly she keeps her Australian accent in all her songs. She is embracing who she is, the city and the country that made her. She sings about the young Australian experience, unapologetically. To describe Suzi’s music, I would say it is a musical coming-of-age story. Songs like Amelia make me want to ride my bike around the backstreets in a movie-montage. I was struck by how unique and kitsch Suzi’s aesthetic is; a mullet/shag combo with bleached streaks on the front and sides, Haus of Dizzy earrings, band shirt. The song Everyone I’ve Met Hates Me hit the room hard. People were still moving, but with the weight that we have all had these feelings. Towards the end of the song, Suzi picks up the energy to a level not in her Spotify repertoire. The band is going crazy, and she’s singing her heart out into the mic. We are eating out of her hand. Looking into a mirror.

Following on with a short intermission are new(ish) post-hardcore guys, Microwave. A group of 4 guys, who you would not pick to be in a post-hardcore band. The front man, Nathan Hardy, is wearing a backwards baseball cap and looks very much like the high-school jocks from teen movies. The rest of the band, brothers Tyler and Travis Hill and drummer, Timothy Pittard, are all wearing non-descript black t-shirts. These are guys who could be anyone, totally unassuming. But then the music comes. Gritty, heavy on the drums, with guitar shredding and reverb pedals galore. Both Hill brothers are jumping around stage, somehow keeping a grip on their instruments. The room isn’t so much dancing as they are head-banging, hands thrown up in the air. The song keeping up was an absolute highlight of the set, with the foursome giving everything they’ve got to the crowd, who match that energy and keep pushing it higher. While the Atlanta natives are still fairly underground, I would pay close attention. It’s hard to toe a line between sensitivity and hardcore, and no one does it quite like Microwave.

Since many emo bands disbanded in the 2010s, it is oh-so rare to see a band as prolific as Mom Jeans continuing to tour, especially in Australia. But fear not! “If you keep coming to our shows, we’ll keep coming here! This is in our Top 4 places in the world to perform” (I wonder who came second, third and fourth). Keep going to shows, keep the spirit of teenagerhood, of community and embrace the silliness of nostalgia, and the shows will keep coming.

I was not a happy teenager. Maybe it was the 2am Tumblr scrolls, questionable Omegle calls, a chemical imbalance in my brain – we may never know. Something I do know, however, is that very few people who listen to emo music like Mom Jeans were happy teenagers. Convinced we wouldn’t survive high school, with no plans to live beyond 20. The future seemed like a dark, endless tunnel. And yet, there we all were at The Corner Hotel, covered in tattoos, scars, heavy eyeliner, band shirts, beaming grins and tear-streaked cheeks. Scanning the periphery of the room I saw couples embracing, an older woman singing along with her 20-something son, a young dad, and his daughter – wearing a Trophy Eyes shirt and blue crocs.  We all did make it. The future is now, and we are making it together – the wonderful soundtrack of Mom Jeans becoming an anthem of survival. Throughout the entire set, the crowd was screaming every line, word perfect, reaching the same volume levels as the band. And louder still, there were frequent heckles ‘fuck yes!’ ‘do a shoey’ or just ‘WOOOOO!’ at the top of someone’s lungs. It was euphoric.

The songs which I took so seriously in high school were being performed by a group of guys who looked like regulars at the local pub. Lead singer Eric Butler is rocking a mullet and moustache (très Melbourne Chic), Austin Carango on drums, wearing a baggy black shirt and baseball cap, and bassist Sam Kless wearing… very little. By the time I could see the stage through the sea of arms and bobbing heads, his shirt was off. It took all of about 3 minutes. The band don’t take themselves seriously at all, they embrace the goofiness, the jollity and the imperfection which all come with making music for a sea of SSRI teenagers unhappy with their hometown. They do, however, take the music seriously. They are seriously tight. Playing amazing math-rock riffs, never missing a single drum beat or tempo change. It’s very clear that the guys behind Mom Jeans love music, but equally love having fun. That’s the best way to describe the energy in that room, fun. After playing *Sobs Quietly*, Butler starts the opening riff to Weezer’sSay it Ain’t So’; the rest of the band immediately join in, until Butler stops and says “We didn’t write that one. But we did write this”, and the foursome immediately break into White Trash Millionaire. One guy starts crowd surfing, his old-skool vans making him indistinguishable from everyone else in the room. The big guys in the middle of the room start moving around with ferocity only matched by the short girls in fishnets dominating the mosh. They break into several other iconic Rock openers in between songs, almost like we are privy to a rehearsal session, or a goof-off between friends. Everything from Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ to Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ ‘Can’t Stop’. Music is about having fun, doing goofy homages to those acts who came before us who we love, embracing meme culture. Mom Jeans’ ability to include the audience in their jokes, breaks down the barrier between artist and audience – they too were unhappy teenagers, potentially with a horrendous side fringe, who made it through – and we see ourselves in them, and they in us. What a beautiful thing.

The song Edward 40 Hands helped bring the show to an end. Super high energy, lots of off-beat jumping and flailing limbs and flying beer. There was not a person in that room who didn’t know those words:

I don’t mind / That you lie sometimes / Because I lie too / Yeah, I’m just like you

Guitarist Bart Thompson began motioning for the audience to sing even louder. He abandoned his strumming and focussed on getting the energy up. There was no way to tell where the mosh ended and the floaters on the side of the room began – everyone was spending all their energy in this final moment of nostalgic bliss.

Finishing with their encore of Vape Nation 2.0, a heartbreaking solo song performed solo by front-man Butler, I saw people crying. These songs carried us through adolescence, but they hit so much harder as an adult. Butler’s voice cracked on the opening stanza;

I’m scared of losing touch/ I’m forced to ask if you know that/ The reason I try so hard to be nice/ Is so no one else will leave me behind

No one was screaming during this song, just tearful singing. Mom Jeans lyrics sting, but they also make us laugh, dance, scream. The community many of us thought we didn’t have, was made in that room.

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[Review] Florence & The Machine @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne 08/3/2023

Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena is in the top 10 busiest venues in Australia and New Zealand. Tonight, it is home to opening act King Princess and headliner, Florence and The Machine

Queer icon, Michaela Straus, known by stage name King Princess, played a powerhouse set, all while dressed in a lace dress over baggy jeans – an obscure choice that felt so natural on the Brooklyn native. About halfway through their set, King Princess turns to one of her musicians and says, straight faced, “Uh-Oh Antwon, it’s pussy time” before launching into certified banger; Pussy is God. While the arena is only half full – people are filling the whole of the space, dancing at the back – spinning with each other and jumping. King Princess is entirely self-aware of the genre changes her set provides; ‘Now for juxtaposition, who wants to hear a sad lesbian song?” If I was picturing a ‘Sad lesbian song’, Change The Locks would be it. Heartbreaking and full of yearning, it is a beautiful ode to lost love and youthful melancholy. Coming out of the ballad, Straus has noticed a lull in the crowds’ energy. Grabbing the mic, they command our attention; “Guys you have to get more excited, I don’t care if you fucking like me or not. Get crazy! Get loose. Let’s get crazy.” And so, we do. The crowd starts jumping, hooting, and hollering. Straus goes from shredding guitar, to grinding and dancing on the ground – pulling out all the stops, without breaking a sweat. In the middle of major hit, 1950, they stop. Almost teary, they take a moment. “Australia’s always been a place that’s supported me. Shout out to the Queer community in Australia.” Looking through the crowd and seeing Queer couples of all ages kiss each other, hold hands, sway together – it is a beautiful moment of community, love, and connection. Finishing the set strong, King Princess is back with a smirk; “Let’s praise the rock lords!” Let Us Die is the perfect closer. Finishing the set by throwing a pick into the crowd – we are primed for the main event.  

An installation, mimicking a pile of half-melted candles in some old European cathedral, is moved onstage. Microphones are scattered around the periphery. There is a buzz in the air.

My housemate turned to me; “Have you ever seen Florence live?”

I shook my head.

With a smirk, he turned back to the stage; “You’re in for a treat”.

And, my god, what a treat it was.

The lights go black, and underneath the candles, a strobe goes off. There is nothing for a moment, and then Florence comes onstage; draped in blue lace, shoe-less, red hair flowing over her lithe frame. There could not be a more perfect opening track; Heaven Is Here. She moves in a way somewhere between rhythmic and jagged. She is possessed by the sound. So are we.

She moves seamlessly into a haunting rendition of I Am King. She stands tall, arms spread out wide, lace sleeves filtering the purple light now filling the stage. This feels more like a Church sermon than a concert; this is The Gospel According To Florence Welch.

Suddenly, the energy shifts, and we are swept into Ship To Wreck. The crowd goes nuts – free from their trance. They are jumping and screaming and singing, and so is Florence. The next few songs, Welch dances around the stage, gliding from one end to another, motioning for her captive audience to sing even louder. In a moment between songs, she laughs a little into the microphone – “To those of you who know me, and those of you who’ve been dragged along tonight and are wondering, ‘What the fuck is this?’ – welcome to the show. It is so much better if you just give into it. I promise. If you do everything I say, you’ll be fine.” Who are we to disobey? While performing Free, she simply raises her hand on the lyric ‘as it picks me up’ and lowers it ‘puts me down’, and the whole crowd follows her, as if under a spell.

When it is time for one of Florence and The Machine’s biggest hits – The Dog Days Are Over, she tells all of us to put our phones away, to “Be here, connect with each other.” There is not a phone in sight and everyone, even those of us in the seated area of the arena, jump together and sing together in beautiful, free catharsis. Her voice is unbelievable; she is a Kate Bush, a Stevie Nicks, and yet, something else entirely. It rings smooth and clear and fills up the entire stadium with ease.

Welch then makes her way offstage and into the crowd for Big God.  She approaches the crowd and holds a fan’s face with gentle hand. As she sings to them, she wipes away their tears, and then pulls away to stand above the barrier which holds back the crowd. The lights onstage stop their changing from red to purple and go black once again. She is lit by a single spotlight, and as she sings, fans clamour to touch her. Reaching up to hold her hands, her arms, anything. In the darkness, all you can see is hands reaching up through the spotlight. They are desperate to be bestowed with some of their Messiah’s goodness, to be washed clean of their ills by this religious figure which stands above them.

Florence Welch is a master of tone-shifting without breaking focus. Jumping immediately into What Kind of Man, the stage pulsing with red light that bathes all 14,000 of us. Her body moving with every flash. The stage and her are one being. And then, suddenly, she is speaking again, the stage lights a gentle violet. Her voice is cracking, as if she is about to cry. “I invite you all now to hold onto each other”, and so we embrace or hold hands or press our feet together. The father and daughter in front of me, the older lesbian couple, the high school best friends – all wrapped up with each other. We are treated to a song that was not played at all on the tour before her closing Australia and New Zealand leg, The Bomb. She dedicates this one to her support act; King Princess, because it’s her favourite song.

Choreomania brings another run into the crowd. This time she sprints to the back, the crowd parting for her like the Red Sea. She stands above them, and once again they desperately reach for her.

You said that rock and roll is dead/

But is that just because it has not been resurrected in your image.

The crowd is screaming these lyrics back to her, people coming out of nowhere to gather around her.

Like if Jesus came back, but in a beautiful dress.

The arena lights up as Florence raises her arms to the sky, and the crowd follows in perfect, mirrored synchronicity. I’m not a religious person, but I was covered in goosebumps. She was delivering a sermon. Her crowd her devoted followers (one man had been to 42 shows). It was like the most beautiful, loving, joyous cult you could imagine.

Finishing with a mix of My Love and Restraint, she begins pulsing, raising her arms, moving her body in almost inhuman ways. Then, pushed out of her trance she begs – “This is the Dance Fever tour! For years we couldn’t gather like this. This is the resurrection of dance. I want you to leave everything you have here, in this room”. And the crowd goes ballistic. After 2 hours of songs, they are still going with as much vigour as they did for the first track. She is infectious.

Previously, Florence hasn’t played Never Let Me Go, at her live shows. “It was written at a time where I was very sad, and very drunk. And if you could imagine in terms of Florence and the Machine songs, what has to be the Saddest and Drunkest? That is very sad and very drunk. So, it sort of hurt too much to sing it. But I’ve had a lot of time to think about what performance means to me, and connection with you means to me.”  And as things go quiet before she sings, voices scream at her “I love you!” and we all cheer. Voices sing alongside her, tears well up in all of us. It’s heartbreaking. It is a reclamation.

Finishing with Shake It Out and Rabbit Heart, I left feeling very much lost for words. It was more than just a show. How could I possibly capture the energy left in that room?

Welch has been very open about her history of anxiety and depression, as well as alcoholism. Clean and sober for several years, you can feel a weight is lifted from her. As she dances around stage – effervescent, ethereal, divine, she reminds us that there is a simple divinity in being alive. There is so much joy, along with the pain. That no pain is too great to overcome. “I gave my hard emotions to you, to protect. Thank you.” Just as we keep her pain safe, we keep each others pain safe. This was a show about connection, to ourselves, to loved ones, to strangers. It was a beautiful reclamation of femininity, queerness, truth, and selfhood. That despite all the hurt, all the heartache, all the grief – we can still dance, barefoot, sharing our fear, our hopes, our doubts, and people will be there to scream and sing along with us. Florence holds us with her music. It was as cathartic for us as it was for Welch, who seemed so happy, lost in the moment, fully present and alive. She is a symbol of overcoming, of community and of love. I left, teary-eyed, feeling closer to myself, excited to face a new day and rejoice in being alive.

I have seen God. She is a woman. And her name, is Florence Welch.

You can still catch Florence & The Machine’s Dance Fever Tour

Tickets available here 

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Interview with Patrick Miranda (The Movements)

There’s movement at the manor and all signs are pointing down under, with Southern Californian quartet Movements and British rockers Boston Manor announcing a huge Australian tour kicking off in March 2023, their first time back to Australia since 2018!
Starting in Brisbane on March 9 at The Triffid, the co-headline extravaganza will visit Newcastle, Sydney, Wollongong, Belgrave, Melbourne and Adelaide, before closing out on March 18 at Amplifier Bar in Perth.
Reflecting personal changes from a whirlwind five years, Movements realize the full scope of their storytelling, musicianship and vision on their 2020 second full-length album, No Good Left To Give that’s already had over 15 million total global streams. Not only does the music address the emotional push-and-pull of relationships, but it also explores loss, love, mental health, and even sex through a prism of newfound clarity sound-tracked by post-punk grit, alternative expanse, heartfelt spoken word, expansive rock, and subtle pop ambition.
Following the 2016 EP Outgrown Things, the group cemented a singular sound on their 2017 full-length debut, Feel Something. Eclipsing 100 million total global streams by 2021, it immediately connected by way of Daylilly (over 36 million Spotify streams), Full Circle (over 16 million Spotify streams), and Colorblind [over 12 million Spotify streams]. In 2021, Movements released their B-sides 7” which included two new tracks extending the Movements universe organically from songs recorded during the recording sessions for No Good Left To Give.
Movements continue to pack out shows worldwide, closing out 2022 with appearances alongside A Day To Remember, The Used, Magnolia Park and many more.
Hailing from Blackpool, Lancashire in England, Boston Manor emerged as teenagers via an attempt to reinvigorate the music scene in their hometown.
Their 2018 album Welcome To The Neighbourhood was set in a fictionalised version of their hometown, while 2020’s GLUE was a powerful reflection of a broken world filtered through Cox’s own cathartic thoughts and experiences. Both albums shifted the needle in terms of Boston Manor’s sound, incorporating synths into their framework and a heavy focus on atmosphere. Coming off the back of last year’s Desperate Times, Desperate Pleasures EP, their forthcoming album Datura takes all that one step further. It is undeniably the most ambitious record Boston Manor have ever made. The first of two parts, this set of songs exists in the dim light between dusk and dawn. It’s a record you don’t just merely listen to, but one you actually inhabit and experience.
In 2022 alone, Boston Manor have toured with Alexisonfire, appeared at Riot Fest in Chicago and various other festivals around the globe. Previously nominated for Best British Breakthrough at the Kerrang! Awards in 2018 and for Best Album Artwork at the Heavy Music Awards in 2019, Boston Manor continue to leap forward into new and exciting territory; and 2023 is set to ignite the quintet to staggering new heights.
With Movements armed with their 2020 sophomore album No Good Left To Give and Boston Manor primed with their fourth full length record Datura out October 14, these Australian shows are set to showcase the cathartic and immersive might of each band in their own signature way; from the post-hardcore, spoken work and pop subtleties of Movements to the infectious pop punk, crunching anthems and vulnerability of Boston Manor, you’ll be guaranteed all the feels and stunning vigour that both bands have become beloved for over the past several years.
Come and experience the ferocious talent of Movements and Boston Manor in a town near you!

Tickets from destroyalllines.com.au



General tickets on sale Friday 7 October @ 10am local time
Tickets from destroyalllines.com.au

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[Review] Soccer Mommy @ Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne 18/02/2023

The opener of the night at the Croxton Bandroom are Garage Sale, they are a new Melbourne 4-piece whose new release Shimmer, has put them on the radar. Even though they’re a new band – everything about Garage Sale takes me back in time. Their bassist, wearing a white lace dress with gothic accessories, the guitarists and drummer with floppy hair, all of them bathed in red light. The year was 1993. They sound like this glorious mix between Sunnydale Real Estate, if SRE had released Nirvana’s Marigold, and had the sex-appeal of Hole. Maybe grunge isn’t dead after all? It’s been reborn, in the shape of Garage Sale. I felt like I’d heard these songs before, but they were so fresh and punchy – I couldn’t have. I was clearly not the only one excited about the Melbourne foursome’s homage to the Seattle Scene. Dripping with sex appeal, grit and reverb, Garage Sale have already amassed quite a number of fans, many of whom were in the room headbanging, slamming the table or unable to tear their eyes away.

You know the old expression: It was enough to make a grown man cry? Well, Phoebe Go does.

Coming back from smokers, we were met by the smooth voice of Phoebe Go. The band room was suddenly packed – 2 or 3 times the amount of people than were there 20 minutes ago, came out of nowhere. We were all fighting for a view of the stage, and the woman on it. Phoebe Go was desperate to hide behind her fringe, she would shuffle a little self-consciously between songs, but as soon as she started playing, she was someone else. I was almost shocked to hear her say “Thanks for having me, Soccer Mommy. You guys fucking rule.” It seemed so brash and off-kilter for the same person who wrote Hey, the person who made the grown man next to me well up with tears with her emotional closing ballad We Don’t Talk. How could I possibly have missed Go in my endless late-night searches for the Ultimate Sad Girl Ballad? Don’t make the same mistake I did. Go! Listen to (Phoebe) Go!

Sophia Allison is Soccer Mommy, but tonight she had a four-piece backing band. They were a rag-tag crew, from Rodrigo on keys and guitar, wearing a gaudy 80’s ski-jacket to Mick on the bass, his bald head, big-framed glasses, sea-glass bass all something out of a Spike Jonze video. And boy, were they tight. The songs went from soft, sparkly, wonderfully melancholic folk/pop, and turned into harder rock covers, with shredding solos, lots of echo and so much drum and bass I felt it in my feet.

To me, there has always been something so uniquely feminine about Soccer Mommy, but as I looked around the room, I saw so many young men. Her Spotify repertoire seems to be adjacent to similar artists Phoebe Bridgers and Indigo De Souza, but these are guys with shirts half-unbuttoned, beers in hand, I was intrigued: what did they get out of Soccer Mommy?

Her major hit circle the drain was the second song of the night. I listened to the people around me, slurred voices screaming the words back at her: things feel that low sometimes/even when everything is fine. We were entirely hers, the music flowed out of them, into us. When she asked us “How do you guys feel about the Devil down here?”, no one hesitated, no one questioned the absurdity of the question. Instead, they all cheered and threw up rock-and-roll hands or did their very best Devil-call, or they booed. If she had asked us to jump, we would have said “How high?” If she had asked us to bark, we would have scared off the neighbour’s cat. We were at church, and she was our preacher.

I realised that Soccer Mommy doesn’t just write songs about the feminine experience, she makes music about the youthful experience. She writes songs for our generation, all of us who were given unfettered access to the internet, and far too early exposure to Richard Siken poetry. Her music resonated with me, the drunk men going hard in the middle of the room, the quiet girl sitting alone at a table. She has taken our journals, our Tumblr blogs, our deepest fears, and greatest hopes and is performing them with unbelievable lighting, double-vocal reverb and many (many) guitar changes. Winding through two-albums worth of hits, a heartbreaking solo performance of Still Clean, and finishing with Your Dog, everyone who was at the Croxton that night, will leave with a bit of Soccer Mommy’s joyous, cathartic melancholy with them forever.

She understands every heartbreak I’ve ever had. She’s seen the ugliness I see sometimes when I look at myself a-little-too-late-at-night in the mirror. She’s punched that guy in the nose. She’s thrown up in an uber. She’s seen me, seen us. She takes all of those feelings which we think make us wretched, horrible, unseemly, and says “Do you want a backing band with that?” or “Jump on in! The reverb’s the perfect temperature!” And it is the perfect temperature; her music washes over me like waves on the sand, and I am washed ragged to smooth, right there, on the Croxton’s sticky floor. Seeing Soccer Mommy at such an intimate venue reminded me of why I love music, love being a hopeless romantic, love being a woman, love being a little bit ugly and a little bit messy. Soccer Mommy reminds us that total strangers will wrap their arms around each other to cry, and then, not even a song later, to dance and hold each other up.

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