PHOTO BY NICOLE BRANNEN
LOGO BY EPHRAIM NYAHWA
Being crammed into the TSB Arena with an excited swarm of sweaty teenagers, is not how I would normally prefer to spend my Tuesday evening. But even as I clutched desperately to my Heineken and adult cynicism, I couldn’t avoid the air of excitement building in the room.
Fazerdaze walked on stage to a chorus of high pitched squeals. Amelia’s unique tenderness pierced through the strange cold backdrop of the venue. Immediately carving a space where harsh meets gentle, where darkness was to be explored but from the safety of your friends arms. Her undeniably clever songwriting, signature gliding riffs and punchy vocal melodies had the audience charmed from the first song. Warm looks, smiles and reassuring nods were shared amongst the band, as their voices blended in unison. The feminine camaraderie on stage was palpable. The display of care and friendship between them perfectly holds space for Break!'s often sensitive and heavy subject matter. As I looked around the ocean of wide eyed teens, I could almost see the genesis of new bands forming in real time. I pushed my way to the front in time for their last song, 2017's indie pop hit 'Lucky Girl' and with Amelia’s guidance, began descending into unfettered nostalgia.
PHOTO BY VERA ELLEN
As the crowd prepared for Lorde to come on stage, the juveniles took to sitting in packs on the floor to mark their territory. The eclectic Y2K fashion seemed a long cry from Lorde's iconic goth aesthetic. It had been ten years since the release of Pure Heroine and now it appeared a whole new generation were on board. Though they had come to know a much different Lorde, a matured one who sported bright colors and had more to say about self love than loathing. To them, she was not a peer but rather an older sister, giving the best advice she could before sending them back into the world. This dynamic became more prevalent as the show went on. From Ella’s assurances to the crowd like, “I got you”, to the seeds of late twenties wisdom embedded in lyrics like “Everybody wants the best for you, but you gotta want it for yourself.”
A glimpse of her shadow was enough to evoke a sea of iPhone cameras and hollers. It was the kind of excitement you find hard to touch as an adult without certain…assistance. But standing four rows back stage left, my resistance to it was wearing thin. I was reminded of my most formative shows where somehow anything felt possible, where the amount of joy and hype elicited from music was limitless. There I was, a full grown adult, being pushed and swayed in a sea of adolescents, wailing one of Lorde’s more punk sentiments “not very pretty but we sure know how to run things.”
To my surprise, the flow from her previous pop bangers on Melodrama and Pure Heroine into the folk dreamscape of Solar Power was smooth. Exactly as a good pop show should do, it went something like.. the catharsis of dancing the pain out followed by tears on your best friend's shoulder. To quote Ella herself, “First we cry, then we dance.” The dead panned youth, anxious, fixated on their phones, were not here tonight. Here, Ella had cultivated a space where they had permission to let go, express passion, and belt every word like they meant it. As proposed by your aunt's corny lounge decor, a place where they could “dance like nobody was watching.”
PHOTO BY VERA ELLEN
The hallmark symbols of new-age spirituality were hard to ignore; light therapy colourscapes, a giant circle prop centre stage. Her band in cult-like matching costumes, often striking statuesque poses, and the stacked hypnotic harmonies (which at times felt akin to a church ceremony). The whole show alluded to a certain spirituality, not necessarily rooted in one idea or thing. The kind often professed by an elite culture of hot yoga mums who carry dogs like accessories. This was not lost on Lorde. If you can look beyond the yellow dresses and carefree summer references, there is a stark irony and cultural critique prevalent in Solar Power. Lyrics such as “lust and paranoia reign supreme, we need the leader of a new regime.” or “now if you’re looking for a saviour, well, that’s not me”, insinuate a more complex and self aware story than the average listener might afford her.
A divine yet purgative energy was swirling in the air that night, wittily orchestrated by Ella herself. I was reminded of that unique feeling, when you're a teenager trying to make your way in the world, there is nothing more holy than attending a concert with your friends.