For the final installment of The Wrap, we get emotional and messy talking about our favourite gigs of this year.
(It’s mainly Angela who gets messy. Apologies in advance.)
Alexander Biggs & Mickey Cooper @ The Wesley Anne, Melbourne
This was one of those gigs that could have easily gone under the radar, but was a true gem. Not long after Biggs released his beautiful single ‘Tidal Wave’ and in celebration of Cooper’s stunning debut album Hit The Ceiling, this was an evening that showcased the talents of these two artists in a simple, raw setting.
Boy & Bear, Art Of Sleeping & Montaigne @ Festival Hall, Melbourne
Honestly, dream line up. Boy & Bear are obviously stalwarts of the Australian scene now and continue to impress with their tight live show. Art Of Sleeping still riding the high of their debut album release last year and Montaigne almost a theatrical talent on stage, I can’t imagine that this night could have been better.
Kalacoma, Yollks & Abraham Tilbury @ The Workers Club, Melbourne
Yeah, this one might be slightly biased, but this show was simply phenomenal. Tilbury is a Melbourne artist with a stunning voice and really interesting production, and Yollks hit the stage for the first time in her short career and was simply a force. Kalacoma launched their EP in an enthralling fashion, proving that they are without a doubt one of the best live acts in Melbourne, if not Australia. This was an evening that proved the worth of going to local shows and supporting smaller acts.
Gold Class @ NGV, Melbourne
This one was a strange juxtaposition between a dive-bar band like Gold Class and the bright, sunny setting of the NGV. Gold Class are simply captivating in their driving beats and tightness as a group. The backed it up, too, later in the year at Northcote Social Club.
Ali Barter @ The Gasometer, Melbourne
I’m not sure that up until this year Ali Barter got the credit she deserved, and I think single ‘Far Away’ and her packed Wednesday night show at The Gaso was certainly proof of this. Good thing, too, as her performance that night was unbelievably powerful and she never allows herself to be overshadowed by anyone.
This year was sometimes a bit… not great, but the gigs kept me going. I saw many of my all-time favourite bands and artists – Grouplove, The Wombats, Daughter, Big Scary to name a few. Those shows were beautiful. I hold them close to my heart. But there were others where I was absolutely floored, many of whom I knew very little about. I think there’s something in that shock, that elevation that comes not only from a place of familarity, but of something new. It’s like cleanly swatching a beautiful new eyeshadow, or eating the first mango of your summer, or the feeling after a conversation with someone beautiful and new except at a gig that feeling is amplified. It pushes at the edge of your chest and hollows you out until you’re JUST THAT FEELING. These gigs did this.
Kate Tempest @ Sugar Mountain, VCA, Melbourne
Kate Tempest was mesmerizing, a hurricane with unbrushed curls and tracksuit pants. I fell in love, watching her empty out verses. Her two band members were focused, draping her words with sound. I specifically remember the middle verse of ‘The Truth’ as she relayed a conversation between person One and Two and the spiraling, terrifying pain of ‘Europe Is Lost’. It was so intense it felt like my feet were lifting off the gravel. She is one of the most present, sincere and entrancing artists I have ever seen and I am so grateful to have been there.
Tegan & Sara @ 170 RusselL, Melbourne
Shout out to the lovely lady who sold me her ticket last minute to this! You’re the real MVP. For their Splendor In The Grass Sideshow, Tegan & Sara abandoned the fixation many bands have with playing through their new album and instead put together a setlist that would have satisfied all forms of fan in the room – an impressive feat for an act with ten albums up their sleeve. Just so we were all emotionally malleable, they opened with an acoustic version of ‘Call It Off’. New elements were brought to old songs such as the slick techno ‘Walking With A Ghost’ and the keys oriented ‘Nineteen’. They also showcased the crème de la crème of Love You To Death and peppered the set with some uplifting material. The twins radiated a kindness, telling stories about previous visits to Australia and Sara’s cats as if they were old friends with every person in the room. The audience led chorus of ‘Where Does The Good Go’ – finishing off an acoustic encore – demonstrated we felt the same. Whenever I think about that show, I feel really warm and happy and good all over.
Girlpool @ The Reverence, Melbourne
Both in terms of sound and the good banter about the Olsen twins and the Lizzie Macguire Movie, Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad share a wave-length that is enthralling to watch. It is one thing to hear the intricacy of Girlpool’s guitar harmonies on record, but to see it unfold in front of you is incredible. Their voices combine into magic, their choreography on strings uncanny. In a small room in Footscray, a handful of people witnessed a show that is now probably personal legend for all of us – well, for me at least.
Pleather and Pain @ Ainslie Arts Centre, Canberra
This was one of the most exclusive shows of the year – limited to the young participants of Girls Rock! Canberra and the volunteers guiding them through the week. The group in question comprised of fellow volunteers Steph Hughes (Dick Diver), Jen Cloher and Courtney Barnett, who showed us all exactly how it’s done. The room went nuts, with girls of all ages grooving in a pure and unaffected way. The crowd were so excellent, it made me jealous of The Wiggles.
The Jezabels @ The Croxton, Melbourne
I went to both of The Jezabels shows when they visited Melbourne this year. The first night awoke the passion I felt when I used to listen to them on the living room floor, walking the dog, before going to bed. It’s not that I ever stopped loving them – it’s just that strange difference between knowing it and feeling it. There were new sensations too, walking away both nights with a deeper appreciation of their newer material. I was expecting to enjoy myself – hence buying tickets to both shows – but I wasn’t expecting to cry as much as I did to ‘Stamina’, the closing track from their most recent album Synthia. Both shows were slightly different, contrasting in their slight imperfections, but both nights the band were immaculate.
Also, Hayley Mary crowd-surfed and I got to hold her up, which was pretty rad too.
CHVRCHES @ The Forum, Melbourne
“That was so much fun!” – Chvrches newbie after their first Falls sideshow.
I was a little concerned beforehand that I might be disappointed by one of my favourite bands once they hit the stage. The live recordings I had watched suggested that Lauren Mayberry isn’t the most animated of performers. However, she has completely upped her game since their first record’s live cycle. That night, she met the crowd’s energy and topped it. Accompanied by their huge sound in the cavernous Forum, spectacular lightshow and a frothing crowd, this was just bloody euphoric.
Natalie Prass @ Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne. Monday 29th February
I won the tickets for this after entering the comp on a whim (cheers, The Push!) Having never listened to Prass beforehand – despite my boyfriend’s insistence to because “Danny Brown really likes her” – it was the perfect initiation. The venue seemed to be made for her voice. Her band was tight, and the music was dreamy. Our location in the stalls of the Recital Centre made it almost as if we were witness to something private, with the rest of the audience melting into the edges. Soft and calm, tingles rippled down my spine for the entirety of the show.