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[Review] Our First Kiss Festival@ Melbourne Pavillion, Melbourne 7/05/2022

As soon as Our First Kiss festival was announced, as bought to us by the incredible team at Destroy All Lines, the needle in my memory record player became permanently stuck on the monster 3Oh!3 track featuring Kesha, leading to a high school time capsule bursting open. 

Reels of moments in time flooded my temporal lobe from spending way too much time becoming an HTML master coder to create the ultimate MySpace profile (full of mirror snaps with puffy hair and smudged thick black eyeliner, ‘raaawr <3’ captions and the best scene bands as your top friends), religiously attending battle of the bands to discover the next big scene gods, and naturally spending all of my spare cash at Dangerfield on band tees, studded belts and Emily the Strange merch. Ahh the good old days…

Like the generations before us – the rockabillies, the hippies, the punks, the grunge gurus – we all still hold onto that defining period of our formative years, and Our First Kiss was an indicator of that knock-white grasp.

Watching the sea of former scene kids swarm upon Melbourne Pavilion this cold May evening offered two thoughts – one of pure youthful excitement for the stacked lineup and one of comfort in the fact that I was home with my people. We’re all still donning the band tees, the black skinny leg jeans, the tartan, the skater skirts, the fishnet stockings, and a variation of vans, converse, and Dr. Martens. The mega side bangs have evolved but the unconventionally coloured hair and piercings a-plenty remain. The wings on our eyeliner have been tamed but the sentiment is strong – we are emo kids, hear us RAWR.

And we did… to the bands that helped shape, and are continuing to shape, our pop-punk and Emo scene in Australia.

Typically a venue for glamorous weddings and functions, Melbourne Pavilion is a stunning setting thanks to the Sia-worthy swinging chandeliers and dome ceiling. The dance floor which has seen many emotional first dances swept across it was filled with feet ready to jump. Propped up in the corner were giant mirrors marked with lipstick encouragement titled ‘Mirror of Expression’ where patrons could scrawl their own words of wisdom along with a must-have photo booth. Back in the foyer was a free hair and makeup station from the glam team at the Academy of Makeup and a merch desk. Taking a right turn to the outside area was the food truck festival with burger and Mexican menus. For a 5 PM indoor festival setting, Our First Kiss paid attention to the emo hearts’ detail.

From newer addition and revivalist local act Terra to the 2008 tiger stripes of Closure In Moscow, Dream On Dreamer, The Getaway Plan, Short Stack and The Veronicas, adding in the nostalgia noose of DJ sets from Bangs finest DJ’s, Our First Kiss musically could not disappoint.

Terra, who have been sweeping the festival slots and have just launched their latest EP Reverie, delivered a stellar opening set full of swirling hooks and larger-than-life vocals – two key ingredients to the emo music makeup and a damn fine way to start the evening.

A personal favourite, Closure In Moscow, offered a faultless set of tracks from their debut baby First Temple and prog product Pink Lemonade. Wearing a vibrant pink co-ord, Mansur Zennelli, started the wheel rolling for top-notch showmanship. With an exaggerated dramatic flare, including gun hands and nail-biting, Zennelli elevated the impeccable musicianship onstage tenfold. Also if you haven’t heard their EP The Penance and The Patience, quit wasting time and stream that album already! 

Our First Kiss got changeover slots spot on by involving Bang DJ’s Rayve Moor, Maddi Nightmare, Tropical Depression, and Rayden Joy. Between the live sets, these tune-fishers curated the most emo-filled playlists imaginable with belters tracks from Emo Gods My Chemical Romance, Paramore, A Day To Remember, Escape The Fate, Pierce The Veil, AFI, and more inducing monumental sing-alongs across the night. 

The singalongs hit full swing as The Getaway Plan took to the stage. With huge hit ‘Shadows’ opening their set, Matthew Wright and co-performed their guts out, proving range does not age. Teasing that they went overtime and breaking each and every punter’s heart before launching into one of Australia’s most recognizable emo anthems, ‘Where The City Meets The Sea’, The Getaway Plan dominated the Our First Kiss stage.

You want showmanship? You want banter? You want crowd interaction? Oh, hey there Short Stack!

There was nothing short about this show, from walking on to ‘It’s Raining Men’ to covering banger ‘All The Small Things’, these lads were on fire, accurately summing up their set with the following comment: ‘you can see their eyes and ears bleeding from the musical amazingness’.

As the disco ball spun overhead and ‘Freak’ by Australia’s best band Silverchair erupted, the stage filled with smoke. An emergency alarm sounded for an intruder alert. There was a breach in festival security – The Veronicas infiltrated Melbourne Pavilion for an adrenaline animalistic experience. Australia’s twin-pack pop-punk princesses turned pop goddesses may be small in stature but they deliver larger-than-life sets. Our First Kiss was no exception. Whilst no wall-of-death erupted this time around, the crushing weight of their talent hit like a tonne of bricks. ‘4Ever’, ‘Everything I’m Not’, ‘When It All Falls Apart’, screamo star ‘Mother Mother’, ‘Hook Me Up’, ‘This Is How It Feels’, ‘You Ruin Me’, ‘Take Me On The Floor’, ‘In My Blood’ and the national anthem ‘Untouched’; there are no words to describe a set of this proportion. The best of the old, the best of the new – simply, the best!

Our First Kiss could have been sloppy and somewhat awkward but so much thought and love went into it that it left us feeling all fuzzy inside, magical, memorable, and thinking about the next kiss.

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