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[Review] L.A.B. @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 05/05/2023

Review By Lucy Paterson

On the 5th of May I returned to the Forum theatre for the third time in my life. As the saying goes: third time is a charm, and little did I realise what a charming night I was in for. And what was the charming event of the night, you ask? Well, that would be a certain band that goes by a certain name:  L.A.B.

Myself and a sold out crowd of eager punters had ventured out into Melbourne’s cold to see the New Zealand reggae, soul, and roots infused band, and not a smile was out of sight when I looked up at the faces around me. The night’s support line up consisted of a sweet half hour set from the trio known as Masaya, and an hour set from the groovy, powerhouse band Summer Thieves. Both bands left me feeling humbled by the talent that were warming up the stage and crowd for L.A.B, and by the time Summer Thieves played Potions, one of the last songs in their set, I truly wasn’t ready to say goodbye to them. Like L.A.B, both Masaya and Summer Thieves hale from New Zealand. What united all three bands the most was the way that you could feel their love of groove and soul inspired music oozing through each of their songs. Each band brought a little piece of their hometown funk to their Melbourne show, and the audience ate it up as if it were the sweetest of treats. Masaya’s single Soda Dreams saw me drifting off into a blissful state of ease, and from this moment I don’t think my body stopped swaying until the night was at a close. Coming from New Zealand’s surf town of Raglan, Masaya’s music had me wanting to book a flight and experience the lively, surfer landscape that is so keenly felt in their warm lyrics, and deliciously vibrant sound.

Similarly to Masaya, Summer Thieves’ performance was so void of dullness, and so jam packed with joy, that I was truly starting to ask myself: what is in the Kiwi waters, and where can I find more of it. Humbly describing themselves on their Spotify bio as “5 lads who make music together”, these five friends from high school gave a ferociously passionate performance, and I could see how much they relished being on stage: owning their insanely energetic sound. Summer Thieves are the definition of unapologetic, unstoppable youth. They made me feel proud to be a loud young person in this sometimes stuffy, restrictive world. With songs like Paper Tiger, I was laughing at their playful, sarcastic lyrics like “I love to hate you like a pack of cigarettes” and the hook “you make me sweat”. With the grunge, alt- rock undertones that songs like Paper Tiger harnessed, I could feel the influence of artists like The Gorillaz, and so it was incredibly fitting when their follow up song to Paper Tiger was a cover of The Gorillaz’ Clint Eastwood. Lead singer Jake Barton absolutely stunned me with his gorgeous voice which was equal parts powerful and edgy, and also resonant and light. The versality was truly brilliant to hear. To me, Barton’s voice felt like wearing a thick woolen jumper, warm and comforting, but sturdy and strong.

When it was finally time for L.A.B to make their grand entrance, they certainly knew how to. Proudly walking out onto the stage to the iconic Ennio Morricone theme The Ecstasy of Gold, the energy in the crowd matched the magnitude of such a song. The choice to enter to a mid-west theme song most definitely foreshadowing one of the more unexpected but whole heartedly entertaining aspects of the night- but I get ahead of myself! More to come on that later.

Upon their entrance, people hollered and cheered, as each band member waved out into the sea of faces, and I could immediately feel the connection between the band and their listeners; one of immense pride and love. L.A.B formed in 2016, but it felt as if they had a legacy spanning decades. Only a mere 10 minutes into the show, the audience were already engaged in emphatically clapping along to their songs (rarely missing a beat mind you), and it was gestures like these that truly highlighted how L.A.B have captivated the hearts of their nation, and beyond.


Prior to the concert, I had listened to L.A.B’s hits online, but nothing prepared me for the soothing experience that is listening to lead singer Joel Shadbolt’s voice in person. If Jake Barton’s voice was the woolen jumper, Shadbolt’s voice was the velvet scarf that draped around all of us, in a loving embrace. Song like Mr Reggae showed off the bands remarkable harmony making abilities, and, as the title suggests, reggae influence. Meanwhile, songs like Yes I Do almost teased us with Shadbolt’s ability to make performing to a sold out venue look like a walk in the park. Performing their platinum certified hits like Controller, In The Air, and Why oh Why, it was evident that L.A.B are masters at blessing the world with catchy anthems that were made to move people; both physically and emotionally. If you have not had the privilege of seeing the L.A.B boys live, then let me just say this:

L.A.B are a picture of pure, natural, celebrated joy.

Between the way Joel Shadbolt’s could burst out powerful vocals with a guitar either in hand, or casually slung around one shoulder, and possible the happiest looking synth player, drummer, percussionist, and guitarist to grace a stage, watching these men perform was heartwarming. I don’t think I will get the picture of Stuart Kora’s funk synth playing out of my head.


As well as seeing the band indulge in the joy that music making brings them, we also got to witness their versality in sound. Not only were we witness to a rendition of the classic hymn Amazing Grace, and Toto’s anthem Africa, but we also saw a return of the mid west/country theme with a cover of Islands in The Stream by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. In the space of a few minutes, The Forum was transported into a barnyard, and I saw multiple people bust out a few country moves. This whole segment of the show not only reflected the bands ability to play with different genres, but it united the audience together even more. By the end of the night it felt as if the audience were one happy family. After the show I got to speak with Dean Rodrigues, the percussionist who has joined L.A.B on their tours. He fondly spoke of the band welcoming nature, and praised the way that they treat both each other, and their crew, like one family. These comments solidified what I had already seen on stage: chemistry, connection, and admiration for one another.

 I am so glad this spilled out onto the audience. It was a privilege to dance and sing amongst a crowd of happy and content people. I think we all left that night a little lighter, and a hell of a lot groovier.

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[Review] Aurora @ Palais Theatre, Melbourne 09/3/2023

Aurora is truly one of the most triumphant artist of our generation, and on the 9th of March I, along with a sold out Palais Theatre audience, were humbled to be in her presence. The best way I can describe Aurora’s performance was that of a re birth, as she used her music to gently guided us to unleash our inner animal, let go of societal judgement, and embrace the raw experiencing of being human. However, I get ahead of myself! Let’s start from the beginning.

I entered the charming Palais venue with deep fondness, as I am well acquainted with its well-worn walls and earthy green carpet. When the support act Blusher made their way onto the stage, I thought their youthful energy paired perfectly with the venue’s vintage aesthetic. Newness was meeting with tradition, and I was loving the ambiance that this was creating. The Palais stage has welcomed countless up and coming artists and the trio of women that make up Blushers certainly left no crumbs; making their mark from the moment their hands touched the mics. Blushers performed with such finesse, confidence, and hypnotic power, that their 30 minute set felt like a delicious glimpse into what a full length Blusher show may look like, and you best believe that I will be in attendance for it. As someone who doesn’t listen to a lot of pop, Blushers truly won me over. Their use of the silky, dream like synth and hard hitting bass became part of what makes their sound so irrespirable. Their performance of Dead End, a song that celebrates that celebrates youth and ‘going out on a Tuesday’, had everyone out of their seats, myself included. Seeing these three powerhouse women grooving on stage with their synchronized dance moves made it impossible to resist doing the same, and I definitely saw a few strangers pull out some moves together. Finishing their set with Softly Spoken, this spicy track sealed Blushers as a band that aren’t afraid to pair their sweet melodies with biting, unafraid lyricism. This duality is clearly a signature aspect of Blushers that is quickly becoming part of their appeal and growing fan base. One of the sweetest moments of the night was when they gave a shout out to their devout fan, who has been at all of their performances. I loved to see the growing relationship they have with their fans, despite this being their debut tour. If the love the crowd had for Blushers is anything to go by, I would say that this trio is on their way to global pop domination.

After a half hour interval, Aurora’s entrance could not have been met with a more captivated attention. All eyes were on the dimly lit, misty stage. Three thousand breaths were being held, as we watched this tiny figure make her way to the front of the stage. I was six rows from the front, and I can safely say that seeing Aurora stare out into the crowd, shrouded in a dark silhouette, was one of the most hauntingly beautiful images I’ve ever seen on stage. And so, just like that, an hour and a half of pure, spellbinding magic was set into motion, with Aurora as our trusted enchantress.    

After having a few second to soak in Aurora’s presence, her dark anthem Heathens kicked off the night; snapping the audience out of their mystified spell, and plunging us into a cosmic darkness that made me want to break free of my human form and become pure matter. Heathens acted as an introduction to what kind of instrumental, vocal, and performative experience we could expect from tonight’s show:

A fusion of angelic yearning, and animalistic chaos.

With each song that Aurora performed, I could not help but notice how her whole body moved to the music. From her ballerina like twirling, to her wolfish crawling and crouching, to the way her fingers delicately danced in response to each note, it was as if she were composing the pieces right in front of us and throwing her whole self into it. It wasn’t hard to see just how much of Aurora’s soul exists in each song.

The majesty of this performance, combined with her reflective talking segments on life, love, and the beauty and the oddities of mankind, made the night felt like a communal un shedding of pain and suffering. To be there in that room, being serenaded by ethereal harmonies and watching people dance their way through songs that deal with respecting nature, and respecting the things we don’t understand, was more than my little brain could comprehend. I think I will be comprehending it for a long time. My favourite performance was definitely Infections of a Different Kind, as it displayed the rawness of Aurora’s vocal abilities on a new level. There was such beautiful range to Aurora’s song choices that left the audience with no idea of where the night was headed. The performance of the dark, cinematic Churchyard shook every persons souls, whilst Exist for Love comforted us in it’s lilting blend of three part harmonies and pristine guitar accompaniment.

 To me, Aurora is one woman who both channels The Sublime, and crafts a performance that is expansive and utopian in it’s message and aesthetic. The way that Aurora appeared to us was almost like an other worldly being; dressed in all white, blessing us with anecdotes that celebrated uniqueness, and stories of acceptance and kindness. Ultimately, Aurora’s show gave new meaning to the title of her latest album called The Gods We Can Touch, for she is our all inclusive and all accepting voice of truth and reason; a vision of the hope, the change, and the courage that this little old world relies on in order to be nurtured and thrive. Finishing off the night with Cure For Me, a song that champions her defiantly positive message of self love, I left that night feeling a little lighter and happier in myself, and optimistic about the world and people around me. I guess that is the power of Aurora, and I cannot wait until she returns to Melbourne.

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[Review] 100 Gecs@ Northcote Theatre, Melbourne 09/02/2023

On the 9th of February 100 Gecs made their debut Melbourne performance at Northcote Theatre. Arriving an hour before the doors were open, I expected a crowd to be forming, but did not expect the snake- like line that wrapped around the theatre, and down the side streets. The energy of the crowd were full of excitement before the doors were even open, as fresh faced fans joined the line, chattering away to strangers. To passers by it probably seemed as one, very large family, were in attendance for the night’s performance. This familial feeling only grew as the clock struck 7:30 and the theatre welcomed it’s patrons. I decided that I would enjoy going front and centre for 100 Gecs because if their fans were anything like their music, I knew I was in for a debaucheries, wild, and electrifying night.

I was not wrong.

Starting off the night, Melbourne’s own emo icon and night core influenced singer Daine gave the audience a treat. Displaying a mix of genres from hyperpop, to heavy metal, Daine captivated excited fans, as they prowled around the stage with bleach blonde hair that hung low, and unflinching eyes that were as captivating as their saccharin vocals. This was my first time seeing Daine so I initially was not sure what to expect from them. However, after just 10 minutes, I could easily see why they were chosen to be 100 Gecs opening act. They were a perfect fit, as their songs, which, akin to 100 Gecs, are a product of humble beginnings and DIY music production. They truly set the stage in a way that celebrated the hardcore, hyperpop genre, and it was lovely seeing this come from an artist who is at the beginning of their burgeoning influence and popularity. Through Daine, we the audience were witness to a different kind of musical intensity: one that captured the hearts of disillusioned youth and foreshadowed the welcomed chaos that was yet to come.

When 100 Gecs advanced onto the stage, they made it known that they were not here to play around. Having had to postpone their concert from 2020, it was clear that this night had been a long time coming, for both the Gec’s and their fans.

“Tonight, we’re gonna play some songs for you”, shouted lead singer Laura Les to a sea of adoring faces. It became evident pretty quickly that no matter what kind of performance Laura and Dylan gave, and no matter what songs featured on their set list, the fans were there to eat up every moment; enticed by the mere presence of this beloved duo. Starting the set with Hey Big Man the cacophony of violent sounds, and absurd lyrics about being unable to pronounce ‘anemonae’, really prepared our ears and acclimatised our souls for a night of Gec-mania. Going straight into their mega hit Stupid Horse, Laura and Dylan performed with exhilarated excitement; their gigantic witch hats bobbing up and down as they stomped and jumped around the stage. Something that I found particularly fun to observe, was watching Dylan play around with the song files on his laptop between sets; giving us a tiny glimpse into the tedious editing process that is at the core of their songs. Producing a Gec song is reliant on all the power that can be possessed on one little laptop, and a solid editing software. Seeing Dylan demonstrate this process on stage felt like a special opportunity to see them, as a band, come to life, as they have largely gained acclaim via being such an online sensation. I loved that we were witnessing their Aussie debut in such an interactive, face to face way! It was special to hear songs like gecgecgec performed live, with an acoustic rendition, and it added a sense of rawness and realness to their internet persona, which I wasn’t expected but thoroughly enjoyed.

At one point in the night, the man next to me explained his journey toward becoming a 100 Gecs fan. He stated how he went from initially thinking “this is horrible”, to “this is genius”, whilst all the while acknowledging that he still feels they are partly “unlistenable”. This discussion was probably the most eye opening aspect of the night for me, as I got an insight into the wonderous way that fans respond and relate to 100 Gecs sound. Fans seem to not subscribe to the binary of purely loving or hating their sound. Rather, they seem to appreciate what this duo put out, regardless of how ‘clean’ a song sounds, or how easily it can fit into one genre or category. It seems that within the brutality of their sound, the internet meme- inspired lyrics, and the outright hilarious subject matter of many of their songs, Laura and Dylan inject passion and force into their songs, but also don’t take themselves too seriously, and neither do their fans.

The night finished off with What’s That Smell, an unreleased song that genuinely had me laughing at its ludicrous lyrics. This further reinforced how little the Gecs care about creating content that fits into a mainstream, traditionalist idea of what it means to create music, and I absolutely loved it. Overall, 100 Gecs gave me a snapshot into a world where binaries are abandoned, strange wizard hats are adorned, and one’s uniqueness is embraced above all else.

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[Review] Aminé @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 06/01/2023

On the 6th of January the beloved Forum Theatre welcomed in thousands of excited faces, eagerly awaiting for Aminé to hit the stage. Advancing into the foyer like an army of loyal troops, it was clear that Aminé fanbase was strong- united in their love for his intoxicating presence, and quirky persona. There was, however, one fan who was quite new to the scene, and uncertain of what to expect. This fan was me. I knew of Aminé, and of course was familiar with Caroline, the song that catapulted him to commercial recognition. However, it is safe to say, that my musical pallet surrounding alternative hip hop and rap was…rather dry. So, as I entered the Forum and took my spot amongst the buzzing crowd, I hoped and prayed that I might leave the show a little quenched.

And boy did I.

Starting off the night, Dj Classic warmed up the crowd with a classic game of call and response. Within a few minutes, strangers were acting like best mates, and it was clear that this pre show entertainment was there to lay the ground rules for the night: go wild, dance, but do it all as one. Following Dj Classic, B Wise took to the stage. I was majorly impressed with his ability to take the audience’s growing energy, and send it into the stratosphere. With songs like Who?! and Won’t Stop, B Wise demonstrated his slick lyrics and insatiable beats with incredible prowess; all the while maintaining a sense of gratitude and connection with his audience. With his concerted effort to look directly at his crowd, and his constant reminder to befriend and look after one another, B Wise felt like an artist at the top of his game, as well as a close and trusted friend. My favourite moment was when he took a moment to acknowledge his Nigerian roots before performing Ezzina, a song that oozed funk, heart, and soul. Side note: I still can’t get that guitar riff out of my head!

By this point in the night, the crowd of newly formed friends were as prepped as they could be for Aminé‘s entrance. So, when that moment came, and aminé danced his way onto the stage, the wild cheers was exactly what I was expecting. Kick starting his set with Mad Funny Freestyle, Aminé’s kooky lyrics and hilarious wordplay were accompanied by spectacular visuals that were as creative and dynamic as his rapping. Between Aminé‘s commitment to jumping around the stage, and the backdrop of neon coloured lights that featured garish yellows and hot pinks, it felt like we were witnessing the inside of Aminé‘s brain: an explosion of absurdity and playfulness. From start to finish, the Forum stage transported itself into a visual exploration of Aminé‘s creative genius; one where we got to witness his bouncy melodies, giddy synth, and hyper pop influence come to life.


It’s one thing to bop along to Charmander in the car. It’s another thing to experience it in a sold out venue, where it’s infectious energy and fast paced flow had me feeling so carefree that I almost felt weightless. What I also loved about Aminé‘s was the variety in his performance. Just when you thought the night might become one dizzying mosh, he’d bring us back down to earth with performances like shine that highlighted his slower melodies and more delicate, vulnerable vocals. I was particularly impressed with his falsetto in Shine and the smooth, glitzy guitar in the background. Aminé‘s musical confidence really showed itself through his ability to hook the crowd. Whether it was through a sugar rush state of energy, or a more reflective, down to earth moment, the crowd was there to drink in every moment and savor every minute. Finishing off the night with a consecutive performance of Spice girl, Caroline, and Reel It In, these three crowd pleaser songs provided a climactic high point that left the audience in a state of total appreciation and bliss. I left the Forum feeling more connected to hip hop and rap than ever before, and I have Aminé and his generous fans to thank for that. All in all, it was certainly a night well spent, and I cannot wait to see what craziness Aminé conjures up next. 

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