When I first saw Airling, the moniker for Brisbane’s Hannah Shepherd, she was “that triple j Unearthed artist that won that Splendour thing”. She was opening for Iceland’s Ásgeir at the Forum and I was pleasantly surprised with the talent of this relatively unknown artist. Onstage, she was awkward, or more so quirky, telling strange stories and having a moment when her bracelet got caught in her clothing. All of that, and her unquestionable vocal talents, made for a great performance and put her on my list of artists to watch.
Since then, Airling has released her debut EP, Love Gracefully, and gone on her first ever headline tour, wrapping up this Friday in Brisbane. The EP is five beautiful songs, putting her ethereal voice on display, and blending catchy beats with peaceful melodies. It’s definitely one to listen to, if you haven’t already, and I was very much looking forward to hearing it live.
Every time I’ve reviewed a gig, a little part of me has feared that something will have gone wrong and my name won’t be on the media list. This time, it actually happened. Fortunately, art felicis’ very own Gig Rat, Laura, was at Shebeen with friends and sorted it quickly. Unfortunately, however, I missed two songs which, by process of elimination, were “By Thorns” and “Ouroboros”, the latter a huge favourite from the EP. From what I could catch through the “soundproof” walls, she was killing it.
Finally inside, the sound quality increased dramatically but the view wasn’t much better, stuck at the back behind the taller gig goers. Back-to-back new songs started things off with the second sounding really good, although I never got its name. “Where You Are”, the perfect song to display Airling’s unique vocals, was up next. A clever use of vocal equipment added a bassy, breathy harmony to her voice, and the song finished with some unexpected heavy bass.
There was little crowd interaction throughout, as opposed to when I first saw her, aside from thanking us for coming along and showing her appreciation for her bandmates having to “put up with her”. There was different entertainment, however, in the form of the bar tender. His dancing could only be described as cool as fuck. When new single “Wasted Pilots” came on, he really hit his straps, which was the perfect complement to an amazing hit!
She finished with the song that really put her on the scene, “The Runner”, which got a bit of a dance from everyone in attendance and capped of a beautiful gig. I’m sure there will be plenty more of Airling to come and I’m looking forward to whatever comes next.
Hometown: Brisbane, Australia
Latest EP: Love Gracefully, released 19 September 2014
Say what? Apparently people have “sexy times” to Love Gracefully. That’s not the weird part though. The weird part is that they message Airling on Facebook to tell her about it.