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[Review] Loveless @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 20/08/2023

Review By Emily

Pop culture has forever been a universal language, consistently infiltrating the minds of the current teen population. The popularity of TikTok has opened the scope for influencers worldwide, globalising the music scene more than ever, and Loveless is no exception. Riding off the recent resurgence of the emo scene, the Los Angeles locals who formed in mid 2020 have amounted an incredible international fanbase in a matter of months. Making their Melbourne debut, the boys of Loveless lived up to their online hype – selling out the iconic 170 Russell with a sensational punk-rock set reminiscent of the early 2000s greats including My Chemical Romance and Evanescence.

Closer to home, Sydney locals Closure set the tone for the short-but-sweet evening. Having released their first single in 2019, the band have had years to perfect their sound. Fronted by the enchanting vocalist Lucy May, the set played out with a perfect blend of originals and covers, each track feeding energy directly into the crowd. Starting out strong with a rock cover of Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream, Closure demanded the room’s attention. A particularly refreshing element was the consistently heavy, screeching guitar riffs that rang through every track, adding a level of emotion that cannot be portrayed through lyricism alone.

Although leaning heavily into the punk genre, Closure’s music remains bright and energetic, capturing the highs and lows of the emotions of their young adult audience. Bleed Out (No Wonder), the band’s newest single was a sure highlight of the set – backed by catchy electronic elements and an overlay of heavy metal drumming, ‘this is a fucking angry song’. Lucy’s vocals on this new track sound very similar to the bright emo tones of early records from The Veronicas, paired with a screamo-style backing from the band.

Their debut single, Bedroom, may have been released a number of years ago, however the catchy guitar riffs and dreamy vocals make it one of the band’s strongest tracks. The relatable lyrics of loneliness and the ramifications of hook-up culture are as heartbreaking as they are empowering, and were the perfect way to rial up the audience one final time. Heavy headbanging and flying arms played out the set as the venue quickly hit its capacity in perfect time for Loveless to take the stage. 

Exploding into the mainstream charts in 2021 as a cover band, Loveless is ready to make a name for themselves as a heavyweight in the alt-pop scene. Blending modern hits with high-velocity hard rock and punk vocals, the band has nailed down their sound extraordinarily quickly, subsequently growing an incredibly loyal online fanbase. Putting faces to the screen names of their fans, 170 Russell found itself bursting at the seams on Sunday night to welcome the LA locals. Hitting all the conventional Aussie traditions, the band sunk a few VB’s, did a shoey, and became the captains of an ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie’ chant within their first 10 minutes on stage.

The simple production allowed all attention to be placed on front man Julian Comeau. The perfect leader for a band, Julian came out guns blazing, not only vocally, but in his incredible physical performance. Channelling an early rock god, Julian’s ability to make contact with every audience member adds a warmness to their set, and a complete obliteration of the fourth wall. Starting out with a single from their breakout, self-titled album; Haunting Me was met with the energy expected of an encore performance. Racing and jumping around the stage, it was unfathomable to think the band was going to keep up such high intensity, and quality instrumentalism for the entire hour.

I Hope I’m Not Sick showcased the leaning into a new rock genre. High energy, upbeat drumming making it impossible not to smile and dance, even through the dark lyrical themes of mental health struggles. The light that Loveless is clearly providing for their fans who may be struggling with loneliness and self-worth is immense, and their warm community is something for any band to strive for.

Julian’s vocals are undoubtably flawless, with a range and projection that perfectly fills out the band’s discography. Filled with emotion and life, these vocals paired with fast-paced rock drumming gives that perfect dichotomy of teenage angst, the replication of a racing heart and mind typical of adolescent years.

The time between each track was a comedic pause in what is such imposing music. The banter back and forth between Julian and his bandmate and guitarist, Dylan was abrupt, yet acted as a time for air between such heavy-hitting songs. The band’s ability to think on their feet as juvenile jokesters had the audience in fits of laughter, bridging the gap between artist and listener. Coming into the limelight as online personalities, Loveless has done an incredible job at transferring these fan relationships into meaningful face-to-face interactions – even stopping the show at one point to sing Happy Birthday to their many fans who were celebrating that night.

Powering though their two-album catalogue, Loveless touched on all their hits including sorry i’m a downer, For You, Killing Time, IS IT ME, as well as some of the fan-favourite deep-cuts. It was so clear the band were simply here to have a good time, rather than to perform a perfectly planned spectacle. Playing through a plethora of tech issues, they didn’t miss a beat, nor did they lose the captivation of the crowd. Still becoming accustom to their overnight fame, there was a genuine feeling of gratitude and excitement in the air as Julian pondered, ‘You know what’s weird.. this is our job’.

With such a unique and attractive sound, and an army of fans, this is just the beginning for the alt-rock duo. Closing out the night with a brightly lit, high energy tune Drag Me Down, it felt as though the audience was not ready to say goodbye to their idols. This extraordinary level of anticipation is set to lead Loveless into many more successful Aussie tours in the future, making a promise on their departure, ‘we will be back soon’.

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[Review] Blackpink @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne 10/06/2023

Review By Wendy Smith

So, K Pop.  If you’d asked me on Friday what I thought of K Pop, I’d probably have said that it is the epitome of a manufactured, manipulated, empty, mindless drivel that the music industry has ever turned out.  But other than purchasing a BTS burger at McDonalds, I have never given it any time so my opinions are admittedly baseless.  Ever on the hunt for knowledge and self-improvement, I accepted the challenge and fronted up at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on Saturday night with a partially open mind and a great sense of curiosity. 

To say this gig was different to what I would normally spend my concert going money on is an understatement.  I was instantly conspicuous in the sold out Rod Laver Arena.  That’s 15,000 people, but is small potatoes compared to Blackpink gigs in Japan (110,000 people) and at Coachella (125.000 people).  I have blonde, curly hair – 99.9% of the crowd did not, sporting jet black, dead straight hair, the kind of straight that I have, at times, spent hundreds of dollars to achieve (we all want what we don’t have, right?).  I am 50 something – 99.9% of those present were somewhere between achieving their pen licence, and their driver’s licence.  But the sense of excitement was palpable and the arena was resplendent with probably 50% of the audience, having rented these squeaky hammers, like a child’s toy, except keeping with the theme, they were in fact illuminated pink hearts – soooooooooooo cute. 

There was no warm up band for Blackpink, instead, as I took my seat, the big screens flanking the stage were playing music videos…………of Blackpink!  The girls were running a wee bit late, and every time a video came to an end, an expectant cheer rang out, followed by an “Ohhhhhh” when the next video came on.  The crowd in the General Admission area were amusing themselves during the delay, with a thousand selfies.  Instagram is going to be awash later on.

At last, the lights went down, and after one last video, played at a louder volume, and by the light of 15,000 phones on video mode, Blackpink appeared.  Resplendent in baby pink, the choreography was slick and sexy and the opening song How You Like That, sung in a mix of Korean and English and definitely pulling on Asian influences with a great big serving of Hip Hop.  After the first song, the girls came forward to introduce themselves.  The giggling, blowing kisses and making love heart signs jarred massively with the hypersexualised costumes and suggestive dance moves I had just witnessed but that’s K Pop for you.  It turns out that there is an Aussie in the group – Rosie (spelled Rosé) is a Melbourne girl who entered a K Pop training camp in 2012 before being chosen for Blackpink in 2016.  The Melbourne fans were keen to welcome her home with her introduction getting the biggest cheer.

This show was divided into 4 acts and an encore, punctuated with costume changes.  The first Act was rounded off with the much more poppy Lovesick Girls, performed on Stage B.  The song ended with 2 streamer cannons going off, engulfing the crowd in streamers.  The punters loved it.

While the girls disappeared to change into something less appropriate, something unexpected was revealed from behind the huge video wall on the stage.  There’s a band!  Real live people playing instruments.  That was a pleasant surprise as up until then, I had assumed a backing track.  The girls reappeared and Act 2 started with another track relying heavily on Hip Pop (a new genre I just invented) Kill This Love followed by Pink Venom, a track that had a middle eastern vibe to it.

It was during this 5 song set that the band were introduced.  The 4 on stage musicians had their little moment and then we met Brandon…….his instrument – Pro Tools.  I had always thought this was a bit of kit confined to use in the studio and for fixing dodgy vocals.  But thinking about it now, the music of Blackpink definitely included sounds that guitar, drums and even keyboards, could not produce live so fair enough.  If it allows artist to recreate the studio sound in a live environment, which let’s face it, is what we all want when we go to see a band, go for it.  And I don’t think that even standing next to the bass stack, could the bassist have produced the hair parting, bass sound that accompanied Blackpink in certain songs.  The air positively vibrated.

Act 3 gave the girls their little solo moments with 4 songs that allowed them to show off their talents with songs that suited their personas.  Jisoo sang Flower, almost entirely in Korean with a very Asian sound.  Rosé gave us a mash up of 2 songs, Gone, a story of heart ache and On the Ground, a more upbeat pop song which also highlighted another unique aspect of this gig, the videography.  Sitting above what would normally be the sound desk but at this gig, looked more like the computer lab at Melbourne Uni, were 6 giant cameras, positioned to capture every move and gesture to be featured on the stage’s screens.  And in this song, there were also 2 on stage camera operators preceding Rosé up the walkway which really gave the video an interesting feel.  Lisa was up next with MoneyLisa is actually from Thailand and has the most American persona of the girls, covering most of the rapping and Hip Hop elements.  The solo’s finished up with Jennie, with her solo song, aptly titled Solo

Another costume change was required  to bring us into Act 4.  This set included a couple of absolute bangers with Shut Down and DDU-DU DDU-DU.   During the set also, the girls came out for a bit of chit chat giving Rosé a chance to talk about living in Australia and coming to Rod Laver to watch the tennis.  She seemed a little vague on this but considering she left Melbourne to go into the K Pop factory in Seoul at the age of 16, her childhood in Melbourne probably feels very distant.

A 2 song encore came (after another costume change of course, this time coming out in their own merch – well, a girl’s gotta make a living) we got Boombayah and finally a fitting song to finish on, the up-beat As if it’s your Last

So what do I think about my first K Pop experience?  As K pop seems to be the magpie of musical genres, pulling on multiple influences such as said Hip Hop, R & B, rock, jazz, electronic dance etc etc, there was something for everyone, including this jaded old Rock Chick.  The fact that Blackpink rely more heavily on harder edge Hip Hop and Electronic sounds made it an easier listen for me than if I’d ben sent to watch a band of pretty boys (sorry BTS).  So if Blackpink are ever in your area, go see them – you’ll be in for a great time. 

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[Review] Winston Surfshirt @ The Princess Theatre, Brisbane 02/06/2023

Review By Renee Morrison

It’s a pity Friday night’s Brisbane show was the last for Winston Surfshirt’s Panna Cotta tour – if it hadn’t been I would have told your brother, mother, sister, sister’s friends and, basically, anyone who would listen to go see this flawless performance. The night started later than advertised, but all three sets were well worth the wait.  It began on point with electronic funk emanating from Perth-based collective, Supathick.  Each of the five-piece act unquestionably hold their own and get the early crowd moving… and moving forward.  Frontwoman and vocalist Grace is a standout though with an enviable vocal range and power beyond her years. Since Supathick’s EP, In the thick of it, which was released 3 years ago,  the act have relocated to Brisbane but continued to tour Australia and receive many an accolade.  The sometimes disco, sometimes pop, but always groovy set includes tracks like Time, Backseat driving and slower one, Can’t keep waiting. Like Das Druid who come on next, Supathick don’t feel like just another support act. Let us hope they are not yet tired of touring, despite a very busy three years.

I’ll admit -embarrassingly- that I was pretty unaware of Das Druid before the night. Their commendable presence put the growing crowd in a psychedelic haze I will remember for a long time though.  Unsurprisingly, the band identify The Stone Roses as highly influential to their sound and while such a claim might make other acts nervous, Das Druid are worthy of the self-proclaimed comparison. Their set takes Brisbanites on a magic carpet ride weaving Manchester brit pop with, ravy, trance and even jungle sounds.  Despite the otherwise echo-filled set, the trio cleverly start with a focus on percussion really highlighting their attention to detail and phenomenal sound.  Motion control, Anxious oxygen and Euphoria, all from their first album Das Album are just some of the tracks we’re treated to. The synth-heavy sounds put us in a pleasant daze. 

Between sets the capacity-crowd flocks to the beer garden attached to the venue- Queensland’s oldest standing theatre, the Princess. This 133-year old venue has been meticulously restored but I’ve never seen the seated mezzanine been used before, let alone fill out.  Fortunately I was on the floor, but my space for grooving was decreasing by the minute. Once Winston Surfshirt hit the stage there is standing room only, and just! The Sydney-based six piece start the night with Nobody Like you, leaving no question that they’re here to party. Next up, their collab with Cosmo’s Midnight, Get to know you.   It’s here that punters first experience the magic brought by trombonist, The Bone – magic reminiscent of Andy Cato from Groove Armada.  Slower track, Need you, from their 2019 album Apple Crumble is up next and it’s obvious this crowd are long-time Winston addicts. They sing along passionately.  Crowd pleaser Complicated follows – just try not to dance to this dirty beat. The only thing funkier is the track’s videoclip – be sure to check it out. 

It would have been very easy – and forgivable- for Winston Surfshirt to have designed a set around the songs that have made them near-household names in Australia, songs like Smile, Be about you and All of the little things. While they do play these of course,  the ARIA award winners instead utilise the whole set, and nothing but the whole set, to showcase their huge range of genre bending talents.  All of the little things starts abruptly, and we find ourselves almost mid-song – this works well though and keeps the pace of the night flowing. The undulating beat and vocals are comforting and highlight just why this act attract such a diverse array of followers.  Despite describing themselves as a hip-hop act, and despite being a hip-hop fanatic myself, I think to label them as such is limiting.  Some of their work would feel just as relevant in a (funky) elevator as it would in a Brooklyn club.  Winston’s skills as an emcee are impeccable for sure though and his deep flow could easily be mistaken for none other than ATCQ’s Q-tip. 

A return to some tracks off their first studio album, Sponge Cake, come next.  For real, and When you’re ready are wrapped around newcomer 0421, the latter of which allows the one-man brass section to again take centre stage.  Speaking of the stage, it seems the Princess’ elevated pulpit could simply not contain all that talent – Winston jumping down and getting amongst the crowd at one point.  Loungey, reggae-inspired,  On a lock slows down the pace just a little but if the crowd are disappointed, they sure don’t show it.  In this one, guitarists Bik Julio and Mi-K, and Dool on keyboards keep us bouncing.  It’s obvious that once solo-artist, now front man Winston relishes every moment of their version of Doja Cat’s Kiss me More. The song also makes it clear that Winston has a gorgeous voice, one capable of holding a complex tune, as well as rhyming and rapping at pace. Jazzy Of another kind follows, foregrounding Dool’s magic on the keys. This was one of three singles released prior to their most recent, third studio album along with Maybe I’m in love with you.  No doubt hip-hop royalty, Talib Kweli, who features on the track recognised it was so much more than a love song.  It perfectly encapsulates that aforementioned genre-bending that Winston Surfshirt make look easy. 

There’s only one and For the record are not too far away, the former sounds a bit like Jamiroquai at his best and raises the party vibe in the room once again.  For the record is just as tasty as Apple Crumble, the name of the 2019 album from which it came. Honestly, the production of this track- that translates well to stage- is far more mature than one might expect from a relatively new outfit.  Ali D off the Sponge Cake album is up next – it was the first song of Winston Surfshirt’s I’d ever heard and still reminds me of Glamorous by Fergie for some reason. I can’t help it.  Fortunately, cheeky track Smile and then their cover of Crystal Waters’ Gypsy Woman get the Fergie out of my head.  In a fitting end to their set, well in terms of originals anyway, Surfshirt finish with the song that Winston explains really started it all, Be about you.  With over a million views on YouTube, the track has come a long way since existing as a chorus alone being played to the local pub flies in Sydney.

Winston Surfshirt, while there is no question that you now have a diehard fan in me, I “don’t know how I feel about” the Montel Jordan and then Wu Tang covers as encores.  You pull them both off, naturally, but with a back catalogue as delicious as yours, I suggest instead letting your talent shine right till the last second.  World domination for this six-piece Aussie act is so close you can taste it.  While this tour may be done and dusted, if by some miracle Winston Surfshirt were playing again tonight, I would already have my tickets.  Have a listen, seriously – happiness is just a song away. 

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[Review] Matt Maltese @ Northcote Social Club, Melbourne 02/06/2023

Review By Nikki Eenick

I’d been to the Northcote Social Club once before, and it was largely empty. The venue I walked into on Friday night, was basically unrecognisable. The room was already packed and hot inside, people between the ages of 18 and 60, some looking they were fresh from a footy match and others from an English Literature lecture. What brought them all here? The indie powerhouse duo that is support-act Ruby Gill and our headliner, ‘As-Heard-On-Tik-Tok’ darling, Matt Maltese.

Nominated for the Australian Music Prize in 2022, Ruby Gill’s debut album; I’m gonna die with this frown on my face is nothing short of a breakthrough hit. I can hear Gill before I can see her. She’s nestled under a microphone in the middle of stage, sitting with her feet off the edge, softly strumming a guitar or playing a portable piano. All I can see is the top of her brunette mullet-ed head, bobbing as she sings songs like You Should Do This For A Living, melancholic ballads that find their place nestled in between your heart and your lungs. Although she is Melbourne-based, Gill was born in Johannesburg and still has such a distant twang that she lets loose when she’s comfortable and joking – as opposed to when she sings and reveals to us caustic truths about being young, naïve, in love and existential. “On a lighter note, this next song is about falling in love with someone and not being afraid to admit it. It’s full of cliches, but that’s because it’s the only language I had to tell them.” The song in question is soon-to-be-released (hopefully), Imogen Creek. There’s a man in the middle of the crowd, easily over 60, and he is standing so still, his eyes welling up with tears. Within Gill’s work, there’s this power to move us, it’s an understanding of the human condition; all of our cringe, cliches, losses and loves. Regardless of age, she will find some part of you and shake it awake. Never have I ever been at a gig and seen the act stand, clear their throat, and read me a poem. But if any act was going to, it would be Ruby Gill. “I’ve been writing poetry since before I could play an instrument, or knew I had a voice to sing with. And I still, have not… honoured it, as a part of me for most of my life. And recently I’ve been trying to take it more seriously, just in my own body. I’ve had some poems that have meant a lot to me being published, and to see these words in writing means more to me than any song I’ve written. So, I feel like it’s something I have to lean into. I don’t know why I’m telling you all that” The crowd cheers and claps quietly, beckoning for her to go on. “I’m just um… taking you on the journey. *ahem* So this is a poem I wrote about being gay (Happy Pride!). It’s called I’m not exaggerating when I say.” Gill then proceeds to read us a beautiful poem about feeling lost within yourself, and so desperately wanting “a twin”, a soulmate, a wife. Watching her there, in front of the mic, I’m struck by how short she is. I can still barely see her. Her face is covered in massive glasses and her frame is hidden by a large t-shirt and shaky hands. She looks almost uncomfortable in her skin, until she starts to read us a poem, or sing us a song – then she is transformed. As soon as she’s finished reading, she sits and plays for us another unreleased track; jamie. “I hope you’re all excited to see Matt and his lovely band play!” Someone from the front of the crowd screams back, “We’re here for you!” Gill visibly blushes. “This last song is about being stuck in a house with someone during a pandemic who you really didn’t want to be. It’s called love space. Feel free to shout, “I want space!” When I sing it for about a minute too long.” No time to laugh, we are all immediately taken back to our own lockdown experiences, or our suffocating relationships – or in some cases, both. As the song plays, I see couples holding each other – the irony is not lost on me. As soon as Gill starts singing “I need space. I want space.” I hear screams from around the room of frantic voices all having a moment of catharsis together.

I first listened to Matt Maltese as I read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. I listened to nothing but As The World Caves In for about 8 hours, and now the mega “Made-Famous-By-TikTok” hit conjures up images of dystopian America and both Blade Runner movies. So, I think I expected Maltese to be moody or pensive, or something the opposite of what he was. Maltese is just delightful. He’s so fun, and funny and jovial. He loves his band, he loves the audience, he loves his music. He embodies the old adage; “Every musician wants to be a stand-up comic; every stand-up comic wants to be a musician” He has such an easy stage-presence that I couldn’t imagine him doing anything else. The 25-year-old British/Canadian indie-pop/chamber-pop artist fills a void left by people like Rex Orange County if he wasn’t an asshole, and King Krule if he saw an anger-management specialist. Maltese has a little bit of something for everyone.

Fittingly, we open with Good Morning and immediately transition into Rom-Com Gone Wrong. They’re both poppy, a little sad, painfully relatable and coupled with this gorgeous piano reverb and Maltese’s Better-Than-The-Recording vocals. Shoutout to the sound guy who looked like Steve Carrell, you did a great job man. I really can’t explain how beautifully the sound filled the room. Not a note off key, vocals and backing vocals and instrumentation all blending into each other flawlessly. “Excited” doesn’t really cover my feelings for the next hour. We are far from the dystopic landscapes I imagined; this is nothing short of heavenly. Maltese momentarily breaks our trance to give us some bassist/drummer jokes that “We’d been laughing about in the green room” Here’s a taster:

  1. What do you call a drummer with half a brain? Gifted.
  2. What do you call a drummer in a 3-piece suit? A defendant.

The crowd is laughing but Maltese goes “I know they seem mean, but those are the best drummer jokes – don’t worry I’ll pick on bassists in a second.”

  1. What’s the similarity between a bassist and a lawsuit? It’s great when the case is closed.

Maltese then goes into a story about how he was on a long-haul flight and just had to lay down some vocals for this song in his head. “And I feel so bad for the woman sitting next to me, because I knew she could hear me as I breathed into my phone; Cuuuurl up and Dieeeee. So, this next song is dedicated for you, plane lady, wherever you might be, I’m sorry.” Curl up & Die is, as expected, a flawlessly executed semi-melancholic banger. All of Maltese’s songs have this melancholic, heart-broken, love-sick undertone to them, and they are wonderous.

Matt Maltese is nothing if not a self-aware tease. “This is a song about a very happy, very sad, very sad, very happy conversation I had with my mum. It would be weird if I didn’t play Mother now, wouldn’t it? Imagine if I played When The World Caves In?” Playing the opening chord to WTWCI, he smirks and then fully launches into Mother. Winding through madhouse into Intolewd; “If I’d known Intolewd would’ve gotten as big as it’s gotten, I would’ve spelled it so much better”. As the band finishes Strange Time, Maltese launches into another anecdote. “Jamie (their sensational guitarist), was playing that main riff and someone went “oh fuck off!” and that’s how we knew we were in Australia.” And then the trio launch into a Bossanova cover of Strange Time. It is cut short, but we are all losing our minds, especially the lighting tech – I’ve never heard a grown man squeal with joy like that. “In another life, we’d be doing that every day on a cruise ship.” Next up is Everyone Adores You (At Least I Do), the whole crowd is singing along in the bridge. When You Wash Your Hair blesses us to an incredible piano solo from Maltese, who’s swapped anecdotes for arpeggios (they’re not really arpeggios, but it sounds good, sue me) and holds our undivided attention, the stage is bathed in red light. Krystal is stunning, it’s got this sort of 60’s hazy feel to it. Makes me feel like I’m in a coming-of-age story. “Makes me wonder if I ever loved anyone else”, reminding me of my first (and second) love, wherever they may be, Maltese holds those emotions and then helps us let them go. Our memories become fanciful, and how delightful it is to feel so light. Next song off the banger-roster, is personal favourite Hello Black Dog, raspy vocals and deep lighting really bring something to this song that the recording just can’t capture, it’s spellbinding. Studio 6 treats us to yet another Bossanova cover (it’s still not enough). “This next one’s about maybe the one or three times I’ve been to a nightclub. It’s As The World Cav- no.” Maltese is clearly having so much fun teasing us with what we know will be the finale. The real next-up special, is aptly named, Nightclub Love.

And, finally, it is time for THE Matt Maltese track: As The World Caves In. And fuck me, was it worth the wait. There’s this expectation that artists resent their #1 track, but Maltese seems genuinely surprised that the entire crowd is signing along with him. He gives it his all. Playing with tempo, with rhythm, showing off his incredible range and unmatchable piano skills. It’s the perfect way to end the absolute marathon of a show.


They got engaged as Maltese was shredding keys to his biggest hit. CONGRATULATIONS! I’ve always wanted to be at a gig where someone gets engaged, and now I have. Maltese looks stunned; “Did you know she’d say yes?” And Rowan just laughs as Isabelle hugs him so tight I wouldn’t be surprised if his eyes bugged out. Congratulations guys, I hope the world doesn’t cave in anytime soon, but I’m glad you have each other – just in case.

Maltese, guitarist Jamie and drummer Jacob come to the front of the stage and take their bows, glasses of water in hand – begging to be drunk. They are all wearing the same shirt, it’s very sweet. Maltese returns, alone, for a stripped back encore of Widows. And then the show is over.

My friend turns to me and says, “You know I don’t think I could name a single male artist in my ‘Most Listened To’s. I think that’s about to change.”

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[Review] Damien Rice @ Hamer Hall, Melbourne 16/05/2023

Review By Terri Nas

An icy Tuesday night in Melbourne saw a sold-out crowd venture to Hamer Hall to be entertained by the brilliantly talented Damien Rice. With no support act to warm the audience up, we were ready and waiting for the houselights to go down.  The mood was sombre, hypnotising, but full of anticipation, and it felt as if the whole audience was in a complete trance right from the beginning. The intimacy of the venue and stage set up, and the strict no phone policy meant that you could’ve heard a pin drop, and Damien was given our undivided attention as we were eased into the first song of the evening. 

With an array of no less than 4 guitars on stage and some electronic keys, Rice seamlessly floated from instrument to instrument and for the 1 hour and 45 minutes he was on stage, we were treated to the highlights of his back catalogue. Delicate opened proceedings, followed by Insane & then a beautiful piano arrangement of one of my personal spine-tingling favourites, 9 Crimes.

The extremely dim & minimal stage lighting almost felt as if we were all intruding on a private and vulnerable moment, which also added a layer of mystery, as story after story was told in the form of song. Throughout the show the lighting altered periodically, and it gave the illusion that we were watching the sunrise gradually over the duration of the show. A couple of numbers where the dynamic built up in intensity called for more bright and sporadically harsh lighting, which got everyone’s heart started and ensured we hadn’t got too complacent. 

Once we hit about the halfway mark of the set with the popular Cannonball, it was then that the wonderfully talented Francisca Barreto joined Rice on stage. Sitting behind her cello and with her beautiful vocal harmonies, Barreto added an extra rich depth to the songs being performed, kicking off with Astronaut.

Volcano was a huge crowd favourite and had the audience cheering extra loud and wanting more. The next tune was the more upbeat Coconut Skins, where we were told “you can sit on chimneys, with some fire up your ass”. We were then treated to Francisca’s solo vocals during I Remember, and her voice was truly angelic and hypnotising. 

A heckler from the audience yelled out a request for Elephant, in which Damien replied he hadn’t played it in so long so he wasn’t sure he could remember it. But he played the song flawlessly, much to the delight of the requester and the rest of the audience. Another audience member then yelled out a request to play Rootless Tree, and despite Damien’s minimal interaction with the audience in between songs, he hilariously responded “Am I the requests bitch now?” Nevertheless he jumped on the keys and obliged. 

As we approached the end of the set, I anticipated there wouldn’t be an encore given the vibe of the show. So now there was only one song left to play, another crowd favourite and his well-known hit The Blower’s Daughter. He serenaded us by  repeatedly singing  “I can’t take my eyes off you”, but Damien, it was us that couldn’t take our eyes off you. 

Rice is a true storyteller and with his hauntingly beautiful melodies, he has a way of easily tapping into your emotions before you even realise it. I got the impression, given the vibe of the night, that Rice’s songs were there to do the talking so he didn’t feel it necessary to verbally interact with the audience too much. This is definitely one of the most unique and moving gigs I’ve been to, and a truly wonderful experience.

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[Review] Fatboy Slim @ Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne 28/04/2023

Review By Nikki Eenink

Somehow, everyone knows Fatboy Slim. He’s a household name for 12-year old footy kids, classic-rock listening Dads and mums in sparkly pants. Are we all born knowing him? Where do we find him? I have so many questions, and even more after his absolute smash-hit sold out show at Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music Bowl. There is no one more deserving of the term; cultural icon.

Despite the heavy rain which left Melbourne covered in mud and dew (just for something different), the team organising the absolute sensory extravaganza waiting for us at Sidney Myer Music Bowl were not perturbed. Everything went on exactly at their start time, with maybe 10 minutes max in between each act. This was one well-oiled machine.

I find electronica hard to write about in general, it’s not a

They played (song) and then (song).

It has such a vibe to it. So let me paint you a picture.

First up was Anna Lunoe, originally born in Sydney, she now lives in Los Angeles doing DJ stints at major festivals like, Coachella and Lollapalooza. As I waited in the rain for my friend, her music started washing over us – courtesy of the venue’s incredible speakers. It was slow, reverby, almost boozy. It was so understated, but she controls sound so magically each song bled into the next and the next until you were in a trance. Completely under a spell. Whether you were out the front scanning tickets, inside eating tacos (they were A++) or dancing, you were taken to Lunoe’s world. It’s a place I imagine is a lot like a club in some movie. Orange light and heavy shadows, as you walk towards the dancefloor behind a waiter with a drinks tray. Listen to Cotton Candy Lemonade and tell me you don’t see it? Unbelievably good vibes. She was the perfect opener, she didn’t leave us drained, she left us soothed – suddenly unbothered by the rain and the cold. Her stage presence is so gentle and she almost becomes her music, as do we.

Second openers were Confidence Man, a band who I have seen live a few times and always loved, are doing a rare DJ set. Now, even though I love Confidence Man’s normal goofy dancing and chemistry – seeing them DJ, you really get an appreciation of how deep that chemistry runs. Janet Planet (Grace Stephenson) and Sugar Bones (Aidan Moore) have swapped out their shiny 60s space-age dresses and suit, and are now in all black, crouched over the table and pumping out banger after banger. They describe themselves as “a portable party”, and it’s undeniably true. My friend once used Confidence Man to convince a car-full of Frenchmen into giving them a ride to their AirBNB in Paris. No matter how tired, no matter what native language, no matter how sore you are – Planet and Bones will have you on your feet and feeling as good as new in no time. Having collaborated with people like Dj Boring you can expect some super lowkey, vibey tracks which will get into your veins and keep you going all night. The lights start to pick up at the end of their set and the tempo starts to go up. A remix of Does it Make You Feel Good? Leads us into our headliner. We are already on a high.

I was not prepared for the over two-hour long, absolute extravaganza I was about to experience at the hands of Norman Quentin Cook – better known as Fatboy Slim. Most of the crowd there is over the age of 40, but when I tell you I have never smelled so much weed at a concert – I’m not exaggerating. Everyone there, is getting rowdy. Everyone is young again. Let’s. Fucking. Go.

I was a little nervous when I saw the projection screens at either side of the “bowl” turn off and on, the Mac rainbow wheel of death staring us all down. But then all three screens went black, and when they game back on, red velvet curtains started opening up all those screens. Backed by the sounds of electricity and a sharp white light on stage, Fatboy is in the building. And he is wearing khaki pants and a Keith Haring shirt. He looks like someone’s cool dad at a Barbeque. The first track starts with some UK DNB-style techno, the distorted lyrics go;

When they said the music was too loud/ We kept dancing

And the suddenly.

I’m in Melbourne/ Bitch

And the crowd goes nuts. Everywhere I look all I can see is a sea of bobbing heads and thrown-up hands, we are an ocean of 11,000, it’s intensely beautiful.

What surprised me most about Cook’s set, is how visual it is. Everything from celebrity-face morphs, into Slim repeatedly swallowing his own head, to his body changing from fat to slim (Fatboy Slim, get it?), Keith Haring-esque men dancing – you name it, he’s got it going on.

Obviously, Praise You, The Rockerfeller Skank and Right Here, Right Now are his biggest hits. And he is such an absolute pro at this that he manages to play each song 3 or 4 times, each in an entirely new way. He remixes Can’t Get No (Satisfaction) with The Rockerfeller Skank and uses DeepFake technology to have Obama deliver a speech to himself behind the presidential podium, but the speech is the lyrics to Right Here, Right Now.

There were a few highlight moments for me. In one instance of his DeepFakery, we get “Bill Murray” delivering a speech by American Preacher Jack Van Impe – which has been at the front of Sex on the Streets, a highly underrated Slim track. It’s so silly, so unbelievably goofy. At the end of the song, we get a black and white photo of Slim outside a house, facedown, on the ground. Two sentences flash up. The first; Drive Safely. The second, and most important; Don’t be a Racist. Also including the iconic Big Lebowski scene where The Dude is at the Bowling Alley in his dream floating through the legs of sexy women, and then there are some guys in red with scissors (Good thing this isn’t a Big Lebowski review).

I Just Came For The Music has some great wisdom; “I ain’t here to fuck girls/ I ain’t here to take drugs/ I ain’t here to start fights/ I just came for the music”

Unfortunately, at the beat drop, when confetti, strobe and fucking fire come out of the stage. Literal flames. My caveman brain can’t handle it. This is absolutely bananas. The crowd is going to take absolutely none of this advice. But it’s true, we are all here for the music. It is so hard to keep the attention of a crowd fighting to stay upright on the mud (some people lost), but he manages to do it. We are literally eating out of his hand, we can’t get enough. And he loves it.

I’ve never seen a man who loves what he is doing as much as I did watching Fatboy Slim. Running into the crowd, demanding high-fives, old-man dancing on stage, swinging around his headphones around – he is soaking it all in, and he is just clearly genuinely thrilled to be up there doing this. Not a shred of narcissism in it, he looks genuinely so happy when people will bounce with him when he tells us to and he just wants to boogie with us all. His energy and zest for life have stayed with me since the concert.

Not only is he insanely fun, the skill on this man. His set is like a winding tour through 90s, through to 2010s electronic subgenres. The precise timing of his visuals to his set, is insane. We are talking he has to be beat perfect, every time. And every time, he is. I was so lucky to be able to see Fatboy Slim the night after this as well, and my friend with me just kept whispering “he’s so good. Nikki, he’s so fucking good you weren’t kidding.” I’d never joke about that. I feel insanely blessed to have seen this man’s talent in the flesh. Do yourself a favour, add Fatboy Slim to your bucket list, because his set is something that is going to live with me forever. He perfectly balances having fun, goofing around and not taking yourself too seriously, while also taking his craft incredibly seriously, and he is a master.

I could (and will) go on and on and on about this until the day I die. And when that day comes, you better play Fatboy Slim at my funeral.

I could not have named a single Fatboy Slim “fan” (someone who rides and dies by the Slim). I couldn’t have told you anyone I know who would have fought for those last-minute Tixel tickets and fought through the mud to see him. But as all 11,000 of us poured out from the venue, it hit me. How can you not be a Fatboy Slim fan. Consider me fanned. A mega-fan. An obsessive follower to his cult of 90s DNB, insane visuals and Regular Joe Charm. Imagine not loving Fatboy Slim? It’s actually not possible.

Weren’t you listening to Slim?

Eat! Sleep! Rave! Repeat!

Let’s go people, the night is young!

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Gig ReviewsReviews

[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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