It was certainly a rush to make it back from Mountain Sounds Festival last Saturday night. It wasn’t so much an issue of missing the main act but of missing her support, Montaigne. The Sydney teen, who I was lucky enough to interview this past Tuesday, has her first headline tour in April and, if her performance on Saturday is to be treated as a preview, I’m keen. She put her insane vocal talents on display, showed off some disjointed yet fluid body movements in “I’m A Fantastic Wreck”, and finished with her hit single, “I Am Not An End”. The crowd were definitely into it and it was a good showing of things to come.
With the appetizer enjoyed by all, it was time for the main course. The stage was filled with love heart balloons, as well as an M and a W, and the lighting was bright. It was set like an 80s prom and Washington’s bandmates were dressed to play the part. When she came onstage and began with my personal favourite, “Holy Moses”, I was slightly disappointed by the lack of a kazoo. But disappointment faded quickly and was replaced with a warm buzz, sparked by crazy energy both on the stage and in the audience. She knocked off electrifying hit after electrifying hit with big screams for “The Hardest Part” and some wild dancing to accompany “Get Happy”. Pausing just enough to let the crowd erupt, she then moved right on into “Who Are You?” and it became abundantly clear that the Sydney gig goers LOVED her. Every song garnered cheers worthy of the world’s greatest performances and Washington matched the crowd with energy and life that would surely be unsustainable for the length of the set (spoiler alert – she sustained the fuck out of it).
The upbeat mood stayed around for “Navy Blues” and “Skyline”, which saw her sing from her knees and add an element of emotion to her act that we hadn’t yet seen. Her performance was as much about her vocal talents as her movements and expressions, displaying emotions and portraying characters for each song. “Cement” was next which saw a lighting change, some almost interpretive dancing, and huge sing alongs from the crowd, particularly to the line “wrote it on the fucking concrete”. Holding the mic between her teeth, she jammed on the keys and continued to perform like a crazed woman who just couldn’t stop moving, dancing on amps and even bouncing on the spot.
With seven straight songs filled with dangerous levels of explosive animation, she let us know that “that was the fun part of the set. That’s over. It’s all heartbreak now.” When a poor guy yelled in response, “I love heartbreak!” she answered, showing her quick wit, “Sorry, I already have a boyfriend.” The mood changed for an intimate and emotional rendition of “Begin Again”, really exemplifying Washington’s talent for displaying emotions both through music and facial expression. She was about to get into “Underground” when a fan yelled out “I love you!” Not one to miss an opportunity for some clever banter, she quickly replied, “So you should”, and moved on with the song. Unfortunately, the crowd laughed, and she laughed, and she laughed so much she had to stop. A second go and she played the song that the crowd knew every single word to. For the first verse and chorus, Washington stepped back from the mic and let her fans sing. Not only did they nail the lyrics, they actually sounded pretty good.
One of my favourite moments of the show, Washington got Montaigne out on stage to cover Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now”. Vocal harmony was on point and the stage interaction between the two while Washington’s guitarist played a sick guitar solo was hard not to smile at. After that, she brought on her other support act, Greg Chiapello, to play his tune “Hot Coffee”, which she simply described as “That guy. That song. I’m dead.” A great and catchy song from an artist to watch out for.
Once the cameos were over, the crazy Washington energy came rushing back with “Limitless” and her final song, the hugely popular “Sunday Best”. The entire venue belted along with “THIRTY ONE! THIRTY ONE!” and the area up the front became almost a mosh pit. So insane!
As is typical, the chants for an encore and the rumbling of feet came the moment she left the stage. When Washington returned, she handed out some of the love heart balloons to her fans at the front and said the next song was for her friends that got her to like pop music. A cover of Kanye West’s “Runaway” went down very well with the crowd that seemed to know just about every word (I swear I was surrounded by the world’s most ridiculous music fans) and took over for the last chorus. Following that was “Rich Kids” with a big onstage boogie.
We were there. The last song for the night could only be one thing, “My Heart Is A Wheel”. The perfect song to finish with and get one more dance from the still excited-crowd. The theatrics were impeccable with the line, “Didn’t need to let go of ya here but I am what I ammmm”, followed by the lights going off. One, two, three, four! and they were back into it with one last explosion of the chorus. When it sadly came to an end, she asked for the floor lights to come on and took a photo with the crowd, adding a touch of class to the evening. It was the perfect finish to what is probably the best set I’ve seen. Period.
Hometown: Brisbane, Queensland
Latest Album: There There, released 12 September 2014
Sounds like: Bertie Blackman, Seeker Lover Keeper
Say what? “So this morning I nearly died.” Between songs, she told us how she was running in the wet and stacked it in the middle of the intersection, rolled ankle, and watched as a car slammed on the brakes to just avoid hitting her.
The Hardest Part
Who Are You?
I Think We’re Alone Now w/ Montaigne – Tiffany cover
Hot Coffee w/ Greg Chiapello – Greg Chiapello
Runaway – Kanye West cover
My Heart Is A Wheel