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[Review] All Time Low @ Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne 4/11/2023

Saturday was an absolutely massive day for anyone who hated high school, made questionable Omegle calls, or had a Tumblr between 2009 and 2016. Pop Punk royalty All Time Low and Mayday Parade have arrived in Melbourne for a double act of debauchery, moshing, and one hell of a trip down memory lane.

I remember hearing my first Mayday Parade song on a So Fresh! Hits of Summer 2009 CD. So, I have to admit, I was a little nervous to hear them play live. I was sandwiched between some of the rowdiest concert goers of living memory, and we were hungry for a show. Were they going to be able to provide? It seems wrong to say a group of guys who haven’t yet hit 40 are in their ‘twilight years’, but Mayday Parade was formed in 2005, for God’s Sake. That’s nearly two decades of performing and touring. That is the twilight years! But I should’ve known better than to be nervous.

Oh Well, Oh Well, is quieter than I expected for an opening song. But the violin is beautiful, it’s haunting and delicate and washes over our expectant grins. And then Jake Bundrick comes in with those drums on the chorus. And I’m taken all the way back to 2011. I’m kicking rocks as I wait for the bus, I’m changing math class again, I’m at Margaret Court jostling as much as I can in my seat to keep rhythm with the women either side of me. Every word flows out of me, Mayday Parade have just unlocked something in me. Derek Sanders takes our hands, holds them lovingly, and guides us through the rest of their setlist. He is quiet, gentle, and absolutely Earth-shattering. His voice is so good, so good. Pain, love, loss all come out of him fully formed and I find myself grieving every song as soon as it’s finished. Sanders shows us how much of a master of his craft he is, in the acoustic version of Miserable At Best. Margaret Court is awash with phone torch light. This song was born to be played acoustic, born to be played live. I have never felt more lucky.

It’s clear the band have been a unit for so long. Bassist Jeremy Lenzo and guitarist Brooks Betts wind their way between each other without thinking. They’re two parts of the same whole. Everyone has this beautiful, innate understanding of the others. As individual players, their skill cannot be understated. They play to not only match the recorded version of the songs, but to destroy it. The Tallahassee natives absolutely blast their recordings out of the water. Driving, pounding, relentlessly rhythmic bass, shredding, treacle-sweet guitar licks and delicate, precise, endlessly engaging drumming keep my eyes glued to the stage for their whole set. And god, it’s too short. At only 10 songs long, I am positively gutted when it comes to an end all too soon.

But at least we get to finish on Jamie All Over. I watch GA shake off all of the emotions from the set. They’re grinning, bumping into each other, as the fellas onstage give it everything they’ve got. Guitars turned up to the max, Bundrick is slamming on the drumkit so hard I’m worried the skins will break. Everyone looks so alive.

And then it’s time for the illustrious return of Maryland emo-Rockers, All Time Low. This will be their first time in Australia since 2017, and to say it’s nostalgic – is the understatement of the fucking century. All Time Low are the high school anthem makers. In harsh contrast to Mayday Parade’s setlist – we’re in for 22 songs from a nearly 20-year career from this band of agents for chaos. If any band was going to be a parody of medieval travelling bands – these guys would be hit. They’re all energy, humour, and an endless stream of increasingly elaborate bits. They’re horny, nostalgic and angsty. They’re a delight in every sense of the word.

Nothing can describe the absolute tidal wave that is Lost in Stereo into Damned if I Do Ya (Damned if I Don’t). All Time Low sucker punch you to welcome you to the set. Unbelievably high energy, pumping lights and new takes on beloved riffs – this is an opening impossible to forget. Everyone is up. There are no seats, they’ve turned the whole fucking place into a moshpit. The control they have over us and the room is impossible to replicate.

“Holy fuck there’s a lot of people here”. Front man Alex Gaskarth is met with a tsunami of applause and cheers. “This is the biggest show we’ve ever played in Australia. And that’s all thanks to you. We’re four guys from Maryland who started this shit nearly 20 years ago – in high school, and we never, ever thought we’d be here.”

After several more songs punctuated by flashing purple lights, Rian Dawson’s inimitable drumming and Gaskarth’s unbelievable vocal power, our front man takes to the mic again. “This is a song about love.” And we launch into a mashup between, Modern Love / Stella and Tell Me I’m Alive.

God these guys are a unit. The amount of stage guitarists Jack Barakat and Zack Merrick can cover while getting these intricate runs note-perfect, is unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. All Time Low do high-energy better than anyone else in the business. They are proving, with every sensational second they’re onstage, why they’re pop-punk heavy-weights. The musicianship, the effortless banter, the charisma – all of it is what puts All Time Low on top. And they’re dishing everything out for us at Margaret Court.

New touring member to the band, Dan Swank, is having a birthday! “Not only is it his first time in Australia, it’s also Dan’s birthday! Let’s all sing Happy Birthday 3 or 4 times.” Gaskarth chirps happily into the mic. We’re having none of it. There’s only one thing we want him to do.

Starting as a dull drone, and growing to a yell, the room is full of;

Shooey! Shooey! Shooey!

“You guys are fucked. You know that right? This is so completely depraved. Who the fuck thought this was a good idea?” Gaskarth might be appauled, but Barakat has already whipped off his shoe (suspiciously fast), and Swank has filled it with beer. Down the hatch. The applause is next-level.

And then we are thrown back into it. Winding our way through bagner, old and new, I have to stop us at Fake As Hell. As he absolutely tears up his vocal chords delivering us spine-tingling belts, Gaskarth takes a minute to thank the queen of pop-punk. The one. The only. My first musical hero. The other-half of the poppy, sardonic tune; Avril Lavigne. “Make some noise for Avril Lavigne. Here in spirit. She’s eternal.” Fuck! Yes! As the punchy, tongue-in-cheek tribute comes to a close. Gaskarth takes a minute to address us, after a heckle from the front row.

“I’m 15!”

“Oh fuck yeah dude! No, seriously, that’s great. Who here saw us when they were 15?” A bunch of twenty-somethings hiding purple hair in the corporate world cheer. “Thanks for growing up with us guys.”

It’s a very sweet moment and reminds me of why I loved bands like All Time Low in high school. They’re messy, they make mistakes, they’re human. They understood what growing up was like.

“Alright now for something less sappy. This is the horniest song All Time Low have ever written. And I won’t apologise.” The song in question is, of course, New Religion. The stage is bathed in purple and red light. It’s just sensational. Gaskarth purrs into the mic, accompanied by the hypnotic drum work of Dawson. The song is extra hot, and extra heavy.

The set goes by in a dream. It’s alive, it’s electric. Each song is punchier than the last. And I’m not entirely sure how we ended up with the band stopping, Barakat taking the mic and asking Gaskarth; “Hey, have you ever? Ever felt like this?” Zack Merrick chimes in, “Where strange things happen?!” And suddenly, they’re playing Round The Twist. They’re dancing to Round The Twist. All Time Low, are playing Round The Twist. What the fuck is going on. We’re losing it. Some people are trying to film it, but laughing too hard, others are headbanging. Barakat was absolutely right when he said; “Glad to know you all still stand for your national anthem.” All Time Low casually pulling out maybe the most iconic live music moment of 2023. Go off boys. Their commitment to the bit is second-to-none.

And as teenage Nikki favourites like Weightless play out, I get a little teary as we hit the last song of the encore. “Take us home everyone!” And in perfect unision, fuelled by patriotism and teen angst, we sing out the end of Dear Maria, Count Me In. And it’s over. The lights come up and it doesn’t feel real. We were somewhere else. A delightful time capsule of a bygone age of hairspray, shitty bangles and musical perfection. And god do I want to go back.

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[Review] Neck Deep @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 05/09/2023

Review By Nikki Eenink

As I left to see Welsh emo heavyweights Neck Deep rock the house at The Forum, my housemate said to me, shocked; “You’re going to a gig? On a Tuesday?” I shrugged. If there’s one thing you can rely on, it’s that the emo, punk and hardcore community will come out in full force any day of the week. This midweek feast for the senses was no exception.

Hailing from the tiny town of Wrexham, in Wales. Neck Deep have been a staple in any emo playlist since their foundation in 2012. Front-man Ben Barlow’s energy is the stuff of legend. He’s known for big jumps, shooeys and general shenanigans. The videos of him performing are insane; whole stadiums alive with energy, screaming and crowd surfing and ready to riot. I had measured my expectations, there’s no way he can do that every time. But when I tell you, it was all of that and more – it was all of that and more.

From the literal jump, Barlow leaps onstage and is a whirling dervish of limbs and sweat drops. His energy is infectious. Instantly, there is so much space at the back of the room as everyone lunges forward, hands held high, drinks sloshing onto the shortest of us. It’s mayhem. The definition of organised chaos. Never disrespectful, we happily collide and tangle ourselves in the bodies of strangers as we are thrown into Sonderland. The lights on the stage are amazing. Swinging spotlights in brilliant blues and purple flash into our eyes and reflect off the fearsome foursome onstage. It’s magical.

As their first number draws to a close, Barlow pulls the microphone in close. “What’s up my fucking low lives? Oh it’s been too long” We show our approval by wolf calling and a chorus of happy screams. And instantly, we are thrown back into the frenzy with Low Life. And what a bunch of degenerates we are. “Something is cooking, I smell some kush!” Barlow chuckles into the mic. And he’s right. The room smells of beer and weed and a little sweat. But looking around, everyone’s beaming stretched ear to stretched ear. There’s nowhere we’d rather be. “We never thought we’d come to the other side of the world and play for all these people”. And what an eclectic bunch we are. Skater chic, goths, guys in denim jackets. All of us move together as we push forward and give ourselves over to Kali Ma, screaming the lyrics that hit extra hard in this brutal Melbourne winter.

Count my blessings on one hand and my curses on the other / Let you slip between my fingers, hide away until the summer.

As this number draws to a close, Barlow addresses us again, in a speech that highlights the band’s blue-collar origins. “I don’t know much about Australian politics, but I do know you have a billionaire problem. You have the spawn of Satan himself, Rupert fucking Murdoch.” The entire crowd let’s out an animalistic: BOOOO. He winds on, commenting on capitalism and sexism and the issues facing us as a society. “Women have been talking about this shit for ages, and now it’s finally coming to a head. Things back on our Little Piece of Shit Island (couldn’t have described the UK better myself if I tried) are bleak. We’re fucking over it. If you’re fucking over it, I wanna feel that for this next song.” The next song, Citizens of Earth, goes off. We feel his words, and his rage, and we lean into that – letting it all out. Even as the crowd gets rougher, we take care of each other. Yelling “heads!” when the next person got up to crowd surf (seriously – so much crowd surfing), or holding the back of someone’s head so they don’t hit anything while they headbang. Right before the high energy bridge, Barlow screams into the mic:


And we all cheer for the brief moment we can, before launching back into the song.

As it ends, Barlow is back. We hang on his every word, rapt. “I can see you’re pretty pissed off, that’s good.” We are all red-faced, with heaving chests and throats already raspy from singing (shouting) along. Pissed off, but ecstatic. “It’s important to remember; the billionaires might be out to get you, but life is not.” It’s then I notice the couple’s holding hands, the guy next to me with full neck and arms tattooed wiping away tears. This is joy. Life must be alright, because life’s got Neck Deep.

They wind through some more of the set, playing old and new songs. Teasing that there’s a new album to be released imminently. It just finished recording. I REPEAT, THERE IS A NEW ALBUM COMING.

Guitarists Sam Bowden and original member Matt West are unbelievable. These tracks have a newfound depth when you hear them live. The guitar zips around the room, perfectly nesting in my ears. Never too loud, or too soft. They play in perfect harmony. Nailing intricate riffs, unconventional time signatures, and the road-bumps that can come from playing live – they must be some of the best out there. Truly they never falter. On top of playing stunning melodies, and heavenly rhythm sections, they also manage to completely match Barlow’s energy. Jumping and swinging their guitars. They often motion for us to get more hyped up. It seems like they don’t even break a sweat. It’s absolutely spellbinding.

Of course, there’s the obligatory shooey. It’s an artist touring Australia right of passage. But I’m nervous for Barlow – this is very early in the set to be offering up a shooey. He’s opening Pandora’s Box.

“Are there any heartbroken people out there?” I scream, but I can’t hear myself. Everyone’s yelling. Even those with a partner next to them. Heartbreak takes many forms. Heartbreak of the Century is fresh off the press. A 2023 release, one half of their Take Me With You EP. “This one’s fresh out of the oven. We’re talking March 2023. But don’t worry, I have a gorgeous fiancé, I’m fine.” Barlow smirks. A girl behind me let’s out a guttural, devastated “Nooo!!!!!” This song could have been an earlier release, we know every word. It just rolls of the tongue. Lines like

“But my love aint enough. Maybe that’s ok. I was thinking about fucking myself anyway.”

Demand to be screamed. We all think we’ve gone through The World’s Worst Heartbreak. And even as we scream along, there isn’t a bad vibe in the room. We’re all just so happy to be here together. Heartbreak is a distant memory.

We hit some technical difficulties, so as they try to go into the second half of their Take Me With You EP – aptly named, Take Me With You. There’s an issue with the sound and lighting. Something techy. I was honestly too caught up in the vibe to realise. Barlow goes into, as he calls it, “A stand-up routine”. “This song is about aliens coming down, and wanting to go with them. I for one welcome our new alien overlords. But they don’t want us to play.” Turning to their drummer, Barlow says. “Take it away! Give us a drum solo!” Turning back to us, “This will be his first ever drum solo”.  We are treated to a delightful 30 seconds of bass and snare, and for the first time, we’re all quiet. Once he’s done, we all cheer and hoot and holler. The new addition to the band blushes. Barlow has been shifting foot to foot, looking down. “One of my fucking shoes is wet, I might do another shooey.” He immediately regrets teasing us with that. The crowd is ablaze with frantic cheers of “SHOOEY SHOOEY SHOOEY”.

Barlow relaxes into the technical difficulties; the band is confident in their ability to just keep playing. “Sometimes fan’s hear us play our more emotional stuff, or a love song, and go ‘waa waa, you guys have gone soft.’ Motherfuckers, we’ve always been soft. You guys remember Part of Me? That was maybe our first big hit, and it’s soft as fuck. We won’t be playing it. It’s had its time. Sorry guys. But we will play these next two for you.” And they don’t just play, they demolish Smooth Seas Don’t Make Good Sailors and then, personal fave, She’s a God.

For the latter, I move my way back into the middle of the crowd to scream along and happily bounce as I catch glimpses of Barlow and his merry misery crew, my vision obstructed by old-skool vans floating over people’s heads as 3 or 4 people at once crowd surf. The people clamber over themselves to grab Barlow as he sings into the crowd, or if he gets close. He smiles at them. “Let’s get this going! Let’s spin a little.” And the middle of the floor turns into a whirlwind. If a mosh pit could be loving, this one sure was.

Finally, the guys can play Take Me With You. And it was so worth the wait. It’s fun and sounds unreal over The Forum’s speaker system.

As the night is drawing to a close, Barlow says into the mic, “This is our last song.” We all try to get our breath, but don’t give him the reaction he wants. “If only there was some kind of performative bullshit you could do to get us to come back out, if only.” We laugh and humour him, a sea of “Nooo!” “One more song!” Smirking back at us. “I told you you’d get one more, easy.” And what better song to “finish” with than December (Again). It’s a Neck Deep classic. “This song is about being really sad in winter, but I guess here you’ll just be miserable on the beach.” And we all cheer. I think I ascended during this song. I’ve never had so much fun. I make friends, I nearly cry, I let it out. Un-fucking-believable.

They walk offstage, and we launch into a heavy chorus of “Noo!!” “One more!!” And, of course, as promised, they come right back.

“Alright! Let’s end this properly!” And we are thrown into Motion Sickness. I don’t know where we all suddenly got the energy, but it’s like the night is starting again. We all move with a renewed vigour, determined to make this night last. “Firstly a few thank-you’s. Thank you to our fucking unbelievable crew. We’re just some idiots who show up and play, they’re the reason this is all possible, all the hard work is them. They’re our best friends. They’re amazing. Thank you to all of you. Who came when we started touring down here, God, maybe a decade ago?” A few cheers. “We love Melbourne! We have so many friends here. The only person I know for sure who was here was a very young John Floreani.” As a good Novocastrian, I cheer until my vocal cords rip. I love you, Trophy Eyes. “And a special thank you to our all-round tech, Danny. It was his birthday yesterday.” Danny comes out and offers himself willingly to do a Shooey. He sacrifices himself on the Altar of Australian Tradition for his birthday. And we are so grateful. We go mental. “What a fucking legend!!!”

Then, they really do have two songs left. “This one’s for all the small-town heroes. But you can all get involved.” I cheer, the guys in front of me cheer, and the whole crowd starts to headbang as Can’t Kick Up the Roots pummels through the speakers. “We’re so grateful to have been from a small town, and to have never forgotten that, and not changed too much. But even more than that, we are so grateful we were given the opportunity to perform for, what? A couple thousand of you? It just doesn’t seem possible. Thank you. If you’re going to buy merch tonight, buy merch from our support act; Yours Truly. Give those smaller, local bands some love. It means more than you know.”

Yours Truly are a Sydney pop-punk band, keeping up with the OG-greats. If you’re a fan of Avril Lavigne, Paramore, or any of those 2000s gems – they’ll be right up your alley. The way High Hopes absolutely rocked the crowd at The Forum is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Female-led and unbelievably tight, they are taking that baton and running with it. Barlow puts it best. “Put them on during your next car ride, you just might find your new favourite band.” Even only catching the tail end of their set was other worldly. It just makes you want to dance, to let loose, to live the sort of teenager-dom they show in the movies. Let’s go, Australia, you’ve got something good here, let’s show them the love they so deserve.

Finishing with In Bloom, is just perfection. Not only is it one of my favourite, not just Neck Deep songs, but emo songs in general, it winds us down perfectly. It’s walked me down from my worst breakups, and it’s hyped me up on bus rides, keen for whatever comes next in life.

“I can try, but sometimes that is not enough. No, that is not enough.”

A singular chorus of screams, tangled bodies. Trying on our own is not enough, we need to lean on each other.

“You’re the only voice I want to hear in my head.”

All I want to hear, forever and ever, is Barlow’s insane vocals, the squeals of joy from the pop-punkers next to me, and our Anthems of Perseverance.

This song offers some of the best breakup advice there is.

“We’re never going to put the pieces back together, if you won’t let me get better.”

We need the time to heal, from life, from Rupert Murdoch, from being hit in the back of the head by some girl in platform Doc’s who just tried her hand at crowd surfing. We heal better together. We heal better moshing. We heal better screaming. We heal better with Neck Deep.

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[Review] Wu Tang Clan & Nas @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne 14/05/2023

Review By Nikki Eenik

I’m scared I may have accidentally joined a cult when I saw Wu-Tang Clan & Nas at Rod Laver Arena this Sunday. But let me go back to the beginning.

The ‘New York State of Mind Tour’ is a must for any fans of hip-hop, or music in general. Cultural icons Wu-Tang take us on a winding journey through the history of Hip-Hop, with strong support from fellow East-Coast rap heavy-weight Nas.

There is so much to cover about the insane production value of this tour. Nas and Wu-Tang take turns coming on stage, punching out hits, covers and freestyles – both old and new. Supporting Wu-Tang is a full live band, seated on top of a massive projection half-wall. Nas is going more low-key with it; a single drummer supporting him through it all. I have never, ever, seen a musician having more fun. This guy is going ham. We never even get his name but he steals the show, with his dreadlocks secured by ball-ball hair ties, face adorned with dark shades and a massive grin – he’s so clearly having the time of his life; and so are we. All of the musicians supporting the main acts are just unbelievably tight. The musicianship throughout the whole night is impossible to fake, especially with those tight turnarounds between acts and bands. Somehow, they pull it off, and it is fantastic.

After that little warm-up, the stage goes black. And the half-wall, two side screens, back wall and top projection screen all light up. Flashing both the Wu-Tang symbol and Nas moniker, glitching and moving across the screens, with soundbites from popular culture, including the famous: “I am the one who knocks” scene from ‘Breaking Bad’ and several scenes from ‘Scarface’. A wasp flies from screen to screen, before turning it’s attention to us. As it speeds towards us, the lights go black and the show begins in full swing.

Behind the acts there is a mix of AI-art; capturing Wu-Tangs vision of combining “Eastern philosophy picked up from kung-fu, teachings picked up on the New York streets and comic books”. If they say; “We are taking the ferry out to Staten Island” – we are. The New York skyline getting further away as we approach the ‘Hidden Burrow’. Above the band are the names of New York Underground stops and stations – all punctuating a different place in the timeline of East-Coast Hip-Hop. This isn’t just a concert, it’s a history lesson.

First up is Nas, 49-year-old East-Coast rapper, widely considered one of the All Time Greats. We are treated to an opener of Verbal Intercourse and King’s Disease 3. Nas is really in a league of his own. Every time he comes on stage he’s wearing something different, full of infectious energy and never skipping a beat or being out of breath despite controlling an entire stage on his own – armed only with the most iced out ring I’ve ever seen, and his incredible compadre up the back on drums.

Wu-Tang quickly tell us why we’re all here tonight, and why this tour is so significant. “Hip-Hop started in New York City in 1973, made its way around. We are here celebrating 50 years of Hip-Hop.” Several different members of the group jump in; “We don’t give a fuck where you’re from, it’s what you gotta say. Just remember: Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothing to fuck with.” Then we get thrown into maybe their most iconic song, shockingly named; ‘Wu-Tang Clan aint nothing to fuck with.” Rolling through an extended cut of songs like C.R.E.A.M, some members of the group take position as crowd wranglers, they bark instructions at us “Swing your arms! Side to Side! Side to Side!” and there is 0 hesitation. Everyone in the group has role, even down to one member who is standing without a microphone, just hyping up the guys on stage. These guys are best friends – and it shows. There is such a profound love for each other that permeates the weed-smoke-filled air.

Nas returns with DJ Greenland to take us on a further journey, with songs like Eye for an Eye, and the personal highlight of his many sets; his cover of Everybody Wants to Rule the World, which transitioned perfectly into The World is Yours. ‘T H E W O R L D I S Y O U R S’ scrolls at the top of the stage. I’m not sure if that’s true, but I know that right now – Nas is our world, and we are his. The connection between performer and artist is unreal, especially for such a large stadium setting – as opposed to the cramped, underground performance spaces 90s Hip-Hop was born from.

Taking us on another stroll down memory lane, We are gonna play the first song Wu-Tang ever recorded”. And so they launch into a fiery rendition of Protect Ya Neck. Each member getting their turn on the mic, people harmonising with each other, freestyling off each other – we are watching music being made and remade in real-time. And it’s electric, nostalgic and poignant. We are gifted with a cover of Come Together by the Beatles. “It is the power of music that brings us all together. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay, trans, black, white, straight, purple – We are all here together. Even the great John Lennon knew that, Wu-Tang knows that, and I know you know that. So, sing this with me right now” But they aren’t the usual words, they go more like:

“Let me see you sing/ As loud as you can / Come together / Right Now/ Over me”

My god is it loud in here, but it all sort of washes over you and takes you into a trance. It’s all noise and lights and wholesome energy with a beautiful Wu-Tang and Nas shaped bow on top. There are 2000s babies in front of me who light up several joints throughout the show, and pass them down to the 70s babies a few seats over. Unconventional? Definitely. But community is what it’s all about. A bra gets thrown on stage, and passed around to ever member of Wu-Tang – sharing is the name of the game.

And now, there’s a bit of quiet. As we are bathed in purple light we are asked to hold up our hands into the Wu-Tang symbol. (Hands up, palms forward, thumbs together). Everyone in the room has their phone down and their hands up. “When I say Wu you say Tang


Then the music starts again and we all move our hands up and down to the beat of Reunited.

Then, more quiet. “Hold up that symbol again” – We do (obviously). “When I say ‘Hip-Hop’ you say ‘Peace’”


“Now change that hand to a peace sign. When I say ‘Peace’ you say ‘Love’”


In that moment it dawns on me. I have just joined the most stoned, accepting, boisterous cult there is. I’m in a New York State of Mind, baby. Me and all other 14,000 disciples.

What follows is the most heart-warming series of events. Nas joins them on stage as they wheel out a Birthday “cake” (it’s a stack of donuts with candles in them) for their Australian Tour managers birthday. And they give a shoutout to “All the mums out there! Whether they raised you, chose you or you chose them – We love y’all!”

 To close, as a tribute to deceased member, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, they freestyle on top of his iconic track, undeniable banger and insane feast for the visual senses; Baby I got Your Money.

The final moments of the concert show all of the performers together down on stage. The background projections are those of a simple New York street. And they all hug. This was the last stop on their Australian Tour, and they are soaking up the love. Many artists didn’t survive the violence of being lower-class and Black in America, but these guys did, and they are clearly so happy to still be here, all together. The crowd is cheering them on as we feel that love ooze into us. I think I nearly cried.

And that, is how I nearly joined a cult, nearly cried to Wu-Tang and Nas, and saw one of the most engrossing, unique concerts and concepts – all on a Sunday night.

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[Review] The 1975 @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne 11/04/2023

Review By Nikki Eenik

I was blessed to be able to see the “Best Band in The World”; The 1975 (according to The 1975 front man Matty Healy) during their first Melbourne show at Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday night. Turns out, as revealed during the show, Matty Healy used to live in Melbourne – information very much not known. So now you know! Hometown show!

A note before I continue! If you are an epileptic, do not go and see this show, there is a lot (and I mean, a lot of strobe). Live through this review and their Spotify repertoire instead. J

If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, or if you know me in real life, you’ll know I’m something of a Sad-Girl-Pop Connoisseur. So, having Wallice, as an opener was an especially tasty treat. Wallice is the alias of Los Angeles born-and-raised singer-songwriter, Wallice Hana Watanabe. She is described on The 1975’s event-page as “indie-pop wunderkind”, and has been described in NME as a “future alt-pop hero”. Clearly, she is a hot up-and-comer, and everybody knows it. She has the cutest aesthetic I’ve ever seen at such a large stadium show. Cowgirl hats, Americana-esque patterns and cuts are all the norm for Wallice’s wardrobe. Tonight, she is donning a mini-skirt with a deep purple crop-top; complete with ruffles, puffy shoulders and starched buttons. Very Founding-Fathers-Meets-Indie-Darling-Core. I’m obsessed. As a Japanese woman, it is so clear that Watanabe embraces and celebrates her Asian heritage – because her entire backing band are also all Asian femme-presenting musicians. During her final number, smash hit 23, she shreds guitar back-to-back with her other guitarist and bassist. It’s such a wonderful celebration of feminity. Seeing girls in skirts shredding up a storm made me feel a special kind of powerful, it spoke to Little Me who had seen far-too-few women playing for huge crowds, in all their hyper-femme glory. We were treated to an almost 40-minute set, with a personal favourite, Best Friend, and Funeral – “This next song is Funeral and it’s my favourite song I’ve ever made!” Watanabe gleefully proclaimed before launching into her penultimate musical number. Consider Wallice Sad-Indie-Girl-Pop Expert Approved.

Front-man Matty Healy begins the set alone, after a video plays on all four of Rod Laver’s massive projection screens of him meandering out of the greenroom – glass of wine in hand. A single spotlight lights up the set, a stripped-down version of their concert-concept; a living room, complete with coffee table and lamp, as opposed to an entire house which can be spotted in the European and North American legs of the tour. The girl behind me begins screaming so intensely at the idea of Healy coming on stage, her friend has to hold her up. “We’ve been exploring being a man, being famous, being obnoxious”, Healy begins, leisurely reclining on the sofa. “This show, this concept, is a call for something sincere and direct”. Be My Mistake is such a beautiful opener to the set. Performed stripped down, with just an acoustic guitar, with harmonics courtesy of all those in attendance. Healy smiles listening to an entire stadium sing along with him; You do make me hard/ But she makes me weak.

Then the rest of the band comes out, and wow are they an absolutely ferocious unit. So musically tight, each providing such a crucial musical element to the show. I couldn’t imagine even being one-man down. Speaking of one man. The 1975 saxophonist, John Waugh, if you’re reading this review, call me on 04** *** ***. This man was the absolute highlight of the night for me. He was killing it, improvising and layering on top of everything from tear-jerking ballads to undeniable bops, jumping from alto saxophone, to clarinet, to tenor saxophone and back again. My jaw is still on the floor. But every member of the band is stellar, and we are treated to a new member for this tour, female guitarist Polly Money. She’s amazing, I hope she stays on for many tours to come.

As Healy winds his way through cigarettes, glasses of wine, and flasks of whiskey, the band winds their way through 6 albums worth of music in 2-hour absolute extravaganza. A feast for the senses, if you will. I was chuckling at Healy’s Morrissey-esque dancing, feeling my friend start to cry at Fallingforyou and spellbound by a never-before-heard arrangement of Paris. The band is also not afraid to play instrumental tracks like An Encounter. They’re taking us on a ride.

Healy proclaims, “There’s quite a lot of people here, isn’t there?” And he’s met with screams of joy. after being the perfect cocktail of pleased and shocked. In response he yells back “We are the best looking band from Manchester!” (No one tell Liam Gallagher) While this fact is completely not-provable by science, it is absolutely provable that there are some hardcore fans in the building tonight. The camera, when not focussed on the band – distorted video, black-and-white avante garde meets 70’s psychedelic lag makes it seem like there are trails following each of the musicians, is completely obsessed with this one fan. Front-and-centre, pushed against the barricade, sweaty, screaming every word, wearing one of the best pieces of merch currently on the market – a shirt that reads, Your Girlfriend’s Favourite Band. While I’m nowhere at her level, and was simply a casual listener, I fell in love with songs like I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes) and was possessed by groove to boogie along as much as my chair would allow.

Something I am though, is a Tumblr Teen. So when, at the end of the show, Healy slurs into the mic, “Does anyone remember 2013?” I know what’s coming. I feel my brain chemistry change. I am 14 years old again, editing my Tumblr html code, after a hard day of being sad and sweaty in Year 9 or whatever. “It feels like ya never left” And he’s right, as much as I try to delete the photos of my Facebook, the side-fringe-having-heavy-eyeliner-wearing teenage girl is alive and well under my front-fringe and septum piercing. The band finishes with Sex, and that teenage girl comes to the front. The Tumblr Girls are singing this time, some of the band’s later fans not understanding the vice grip The 1975’s 2013 self-titled album had on us, culturally. But I understand. We understand. What a cathartic moment.

And then, it ends. No encore, no nothing. Done. The end is marked only by Healy, “Give it up for the World’s Greatest Band, The 1975. We love you!” Walking out in a swarm of former early-Internet teens, new tiktok fans and goths. I am bleary-eyed from too much light exposure, but feel a side-fringe sized weight lifted from my shoulders.

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