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[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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