If 2018 has taught us one thing it’s that the Australian pop scene is absolutely thriving at the moment. We’ve never had such a strong and diverse range of talent on display than we do right now. And never before has pop been so openly accepted in it’s diverse form. So it only seems appropriate that E^ST’s headline ‘Life Ain’t Always Roses EP Tour’ celebrates that with an epic line-up of some of Australia’s most exciting newcomers.
As Jack Gray emerges onto the stage, the crowd begins to file in mostly unaware that they are about to witness one of Australia’s best kept secrets. As he strums through a setlist of unreleased material with his drummer and keyboardist, he serves some big hooks with groovy guitar riffs and a whole lot of heart. Rocking a oversized jumper and messy hair, he commands your attention with his genuine charm and confidence. The indie rock vibes of ‘Tongue Tied’ and ‘Fools’ complimented his aesthetic whilst the minimalist and emotional ballad ‘Take Our Time’ had you absolutely rolling off every lyric. His storytelling was so raw and captivating whilst his delivery was so polished and impressive. Smiling through his banter he performed his recent single ‘My Hands’ that some of the crowd seemed to excitingly know the lyrics to and safe to say the rest of the crowd went home and added it to their playlists straight away.
Switching up the vibe, Kota Banks stormed onto the stage with her infectious beat heavy sound that had the crowd quickly singing and dancing along to the likes of ‘Prize’, ‘Holiday’ and ‘U Changed’. Joined on stage by her slick DJ, Lil Kritty and their emotional support toy Lemur, Kevin they had the crowd immediately eating out of their hands. The whole energy of their set was contagious as Kota bounced across the stage, dropped it low to ‘Dangerous’ and created little singalong’s during the likes of ‘Empty Streets’ and ‘Florentina’. Her sassy attitude and carefree vibe had the crowd living in the moment and forgetting their inhibitions whether they knew all her songs or not. Wrapping up the set with the euphoric and anthemic ‘Child’, ‘I’m It’ and ‘Zoom’, you really didn’t want her set to finish. Her songs are huge, her stage presence is bigger and to be honest she may even be Australia’s answer to Charli XCX.
Coming off the back of supporting Panic At The Disco on their massive sold out Australian tour and a string of viral singles, E^ST has gained herself quite the supportive fanbase. With a “we want E^ST” chant bellowing through the Woolly Mammoth as the lights dimmed, she walked on stage surrounded by some dress up Aliens for the fitting opener “Alien’. As the crowd grooved through the mid-tempo opener, it was ‘Old Age’ that turned up the volume a little. As she looked around at the screaming crowd, her smile on her face was contagious as she confessed “We are only two songs in and this is already the best night of my life”. After briefly gushing to the ecstatic crowd she powered through favourites ‘’Get Money’, ‘The Alley’ and ‘Heaven In My Mind’ before getting a little sentimental. Her music is quite upbeat and empowering but there is a strong emotional and reflective undertone that allows her to show some raw vulnerability. The dreamy sound of ‘Pure’ had everyone swaying along before she addressed the cynical storyline, “that song doesn’t apply to anyone in this room” in reference to having fake friends around her. She solemley stated, “I really hope none relates to this song” as she introduced ‘Blowjob’ which lead one of the biggest and most passionate singalongs of the night. ‘Here Comes Karma’, ‘Friends’ and a cover of All American Rejects ‘Gives You Hell’ turned up the volume a little further before the room got a little nostalgic and euphoric for the closing tracks. “I don’t do encores, so these are really the last songs so lets go crazy” she screamed. So it’s no surprise that ‘I Don’t Lack Imagination’ and ‘Life Goes On’ became two of the biggest moments of the night. And as you left the venue you couldn’t help but sing their ridiculously catchy hooks one after the other whilst smiling to yourself about the epic all Australian pop line up you just witnessed.