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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] Grace Petrie @ Northcote Social Club, Melbourne 19/01/2023

Crowds lounging on the carpet of a band room is a site rarely seen, more the happenings of a local festival, or a Day on the Green. The atmosphere leading up to Grace Petrie’s sold-out Melbourne show was certainly a comforting one, with bodies replicating the scene of a lazy Sunday afternoon at home. The cult following of the self-proclaimed ‘sad lesbian folk’ musician had clearly gathered in Melbourne previously, as it felt that each person in the room knew the words and rhythms to every song that was to come.

The night kicked off with a very fitting support, local blues musician Georgia Rodgers. The one-woman show boasted a sultry, 60s aesthetic over a red-washed stage. The contrast between her unashamed, typically self-deprecating humour, and the powerhouse vocals that were to follow was such a breath of fresh air. Simultaneously providing a nostalgic feel using steady bass notes paired with a deep, husky voice – somewhat reminiscent of a mellow Elvis track.

Georgia’s quirky confidence played on through the set, as the instrumental depth of the songs began to surge. If you had closed your eyes, you would picture at least three guitarists on stage as she continued to layer stunning riffs over one another, leaving the audience in awe and an almost trance-like state. Her lyricism was a treat for the ears, as very literal storytelling was paired with tongue-in-cheek play on words; ‘I just need one line… to say to you’.

Watching Grace Petrie for the first time was like reuniting with an old friend; her stories so familiar. A smoky orange state filled the stage, as Grace nonchalantly made her way into the light – the adoring fans standing still, itching to hear the message she had come to share. Accompanied by composer Ben Moss, this duo act was set to deliver two hours of thought-provoking, nostalgic folk anthems.

Bounding straight into upbeat protest anthem If There’s a Fire in Your Heart, the passion of the crowd was enough to send shivers down my spine – chanting ‘to build a world on peace and love, it’s never too late’. Torn between wanting to dance the night away and sitting still to admire the beautiful poetry – this track took my mind to an Irish Pub, the room smelling of beer and the fellowship between everyone present. The seamless duo made it impossible not to be moved by the beautiful and purposeful lyricism, coupled with the sounds of traditional folk fiddle and melodeon.

The pair did not shy away from socialist themes, however songs like Storm to Weather provided not only a deep and meaningful message, but also a beacon of hope singing ‘we will dance again next year’ in reference to COVID-19 lockdowns and isolation.

Grace described her music on many occasions as ‘angry’ and ‘sad’, being – in her opinion – the two pillars of folk music. However, this was not the case with the next song Ivy, a beautiful story of family, accompanied by the harmonies of Ben Moss.

LGBT themes can be difficult to write about in a genuine way, but this is one of the many ways Grace connects with her followers. Being a largely queer audience, the relatability of Grace’s life experience is a comfort for all that listen to her music – this was so abundantly clear as she had the room in stitches over The Last Man on Earth. To be a true role model, in Grace’s case, is to not hold back on themes of relationships, self-acceptance, and personal growth.

Sturdy Oak, a solo piece by Ben Moss was a breath of fresh air from a male musician – a poem about issues of masculinity, wrapped in the imagery of a metaphor about trees. This portion of the show was a change of pace, the story of being a man, from the perspective of a man; a song so beautifully written you could have heard a pin drop in the audience as he bridged the gap between masculinity and the (almost) all-female crowd.

Running with the theme of poor leadership, the music came to a halt during a beautiful rewrite of The Old Man’s Tale by Ian Campbell, poetry delivered in acapella style. The silence in the room was unlike anything I had experienced at shows in the past. The pain and anguish in Grace’s voice was extraordinarily haunting.

Getting the sense that something magical was about to take place, the feminist LGBT anthem Farewell to Welfare did not disappoint. This stunning, upbeat, Celtic-style song, paired with sombre lyricism was gut-wrenching to hear, yet relatable to majority of the room. This show although minimalistic at a glance, was anything but in its messaging. Meanwhile in Texas was another stand-out moment. A song about abortion rights paired with the almost meditative state of the crowd was terribly bittersweet.

IKEA and Black Tie began wrapping up the night on a more positive note. The message shared about growing up and being exactly who you are is invaluable, particularly for the young women present. Combined with cheeky rhymes and crowd participation, this show had hit its emotional and thematic peak. With the crowd at her fingertips the show closed out with The Losing Side, an upbeat singalong encore.

Spending the night with Grace Petrie and Ben Moss felt like a conversation, a friendship, and an unconditional love that is rare in today’s online-based musical culture. With every important conversation bleeding directly into her next song, a night spent with Grace Petrie is one that should not be missed.

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[Review] Nashville Pussy @ Northcote Social Club, Melbourne 8/12/2022

The following content may be inappropriate for minors and people with a stick up their arse. Warning: high level tongue in cheek sexual innuendo.

What the hell did you expect?

Nashville Pussy was in town and I was there to lap it all up. So screw the foreplay and let’s muff-dive on in.

The Black Tides are the dynamic duo of Adam OConnor aka Red & Annette Sa. They have a sound that can be best described as, if Motörhead fucked the White Stripes and gave birth to a four-armed baby. Despite them being a two-piece band consisting of Red on Bass and Vocals and Annette on Drums and backing vocals, they had an incredibly full sound. A large part of this can be credited to Red’s intelligent use of effects and writing riffs and licks that covered the full sonic spectrum usually only heard from a larger band. The brilliant chemistry between the two members also contributed towards their show stopping performance, combined with playful tongue in cheek banter within the band and with audiences. A quote from Red: “Annette’s applause was bigger, like her genitals.” In my opinion poetically sums up the attitude and fun of seeing them live.

Their set even included a Punk Rock cover of Royals by Lorde – a song that I had previously paid no attention to, but now enjoyed it in its new incarnation.

Love, love, love this band and look forward to seeing them again.

Mammoth Mammoth entered the stage with all the intensity and charisma of pro-wrestling. Frontman Mikey Tucker spewed water from his mouth across the stage like an angry geyser whilst drummer, Frank ‘Bones’ Trobbiani was like a force of nature, pummeling and dominating his drum kit. Mammoth Mammoth have a presence that don’t merely request that you pay heed, but instead put you in a headlock and demand your attention. As a frontman, Mikey Tucker certainly has an assertive and compelling aura that surrounds him, whether he’s striding amidst the crowd or laying on the stage as guitarist, Ben ‘Cuz’ Couzens rests a leg on him while shredding out a solo.

Despite their hawkish demeanor, Mammoth Mammoth are a bunch of guys who love what they do and have a hell of a time doing it.

Closing the set with a song about Paul Stanley’s Penis (Love Gun by KISS) was the perfect cherry on the top of this whiskey-drenched cake of a set.

Self described as “Bigger than Jesus, louder than hell.” I’m most certainly inclined to agree.

To be hailed as “America’s last great Rock and Roll band” by the legendary Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead, is incredibly high praise to live up to – and Nashville Pussy did not disappoint.

If Nashville Pussy were a meal, they would be Nashville hot chicken. Riffs that had a southern fried crunch, bathed in a voice like the finest hot sauce. Yes, it burns but god damn it tastes so good you keep coming back for more.

Ruyter Suys (pronounced “Rider Sighs”) guitarist of the band absolutely blew me away. She had the wild abandon and tenacity of players like Rory Gallagher and Angus Young, tearing into the fretboard as they opened the set with Struttin’ Cock.

Frontman Blaine Cartwright, sang with the ferocity of a crazed preacher man. Maintaining the intensity throughout their monstrous 17-song set which included songs like, She Keeps Me Coming and I Keep Going Back, Pillbilly Blues, Till the Meat Falls Off the Bone and the very educational, Pussy’s Not a Dirty Word.

Backed by Bonnie Buitrago on Bass and Ben Thomas on Drums, they performed like Energizer bunnies on speed.

Often as bands get older they exhibit signs that age is catching up with them but this could not be further from the truth with Nashville Pussy. They have not only beaten the hands of time, but it appears that they have straight out broken them and have lost none of their mojo.

For an encore, Blaine Cartwright gave us invaluable advice: “Don’t listen to all the people telling you what you should believe, the only thing you need to know, is that everyone just has to Keep on Fucking.

As the band hit the last chords in their epic finale, Ruyter Suys baptized the front row in beer, then proceeded to play her guitar with the empty can and in a jaw-dropping display of pure Rock n’ Roll, she literally ripped the strings right off her guitar!

Nashville Pussy are a band that must be experienced live, and I for one, cannot wait to see them again.

Stadium shows are spectacular but the underground club gigs and bands with a cult following, hold an extra special place in my heart.

All the bands tonight clearly displayed the influence and inspiration that the mighty Motörhead has gifted to the world of Rock n’ Roll. If Lemmy could have seen this show I’m pretty sure he’d raise a glass of Jack and Coke in approval.

You can still catch them at the following shows

Sat 10th Dec – Wollongong – La La La’s

Mon 12th Dec – Sydney – Crowbar

Limited VIP Meet & greet packages available.

 GET YOUR TICKETS HERE >> https://hardlinemedia.net/nashville-pussy

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