Photo credit: Freya Miller
It’s far from a secret that we at art felicis are big fans of Montaigne.
We’ve seen her support Megan Washington and Japanese Wallpaper, and now we’ve had the opportunity to see her star as the headline act. The 20 year old from Sydney has kept growing since the success of her debut EP, Life of Montaigne, with a couple of hit singles and even a collaboration with Hilltop Hoods.
It was a full house on Friday night at Howler and the place was buzzing by the time the band came out onstage. It only took until halfway through her first song, ‘What You Mean To Me’, for Montaigne to announce “I’m gonna get the fun started early” and get the crowd clapping along. She had no trouble keeping the momentum going either as she moved straight into ‘I Am Not An End’ to loud cheers.
Back-to-back songs from her EP, ‘Pontius of the Past’ and ‘A Cinematic Plea for an End’, garnered a great reception, as Montaigne expressed her love for crowds that know all her songs and sing back at her. She continued a perfect balance of performing and stage talk (and we know she loves to talk from our previous chats with her), letting us know that her new album should have the finishing touches done by this Monday, before previewing a couple of songs from it. Montaigne owned the stage throughout, balancing quirkiness, sexiness, and crowd adoration.
Unfortunately, scattered among her adoring fans were a shockingly large number of selfish arseholes. I hate to take away from a talented artist by focussing too much on the crowd but they were particularly awful. If you know Montaigne’s music, especially her early stuff, you’ll appreciate that so much of it relies on a slow but deliberate build-up, displaying strong vocals, before reaching a powerful climax. Far too many people decided that these quieter parts were a cue to talk loudly among themselves and turn an otherwise great performance into something sadly anticlimactic.
It was far from all negative though, as she played her much loved cover of Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ with plenty of dancing and cheering, particularly to her captivating vocals in the chorus. ‘Clip My Wings’ was a strong performance too but it was ‘I’m a Fantastic Wreck’ that stole the show. The highly entertaining performance saw Montaigne jerk her body almost violently and had her drummer throwing cymbals and shakers, and just causing chaos. She finished the set with her newest single, ‘In the Dark’ to strobe lighting, almost seizure-like dancing, and an overly aggressive mic drop (or throw) before immediately walking off stage.
We knew an encore was coming but what songs were left? Back came Montaigne, this time without her band, and she was quick to apologise about the mic throw as she picked it back up. “This is why I can’t be a rock star because I’m too apologetic.” She explained the background for her last song, the title track for her new album called ‘Glorious Heights’. As she pointed out, the title sounds arrogant but it’s meant to be about trying to reach those heights when you can’t. Sitting in front of her keyboard, she played a stripped-down, acoustic version which, from a first listen, was pretty good. It was a solid performance, despite some in the crowd trying to ruin it, and she even came out afterwards to talk to her fans. We’ll be keeping an eye out for her debut album to drop soon!
Hometown: Sydney, NSW
Latest EP: Life of Montaigne, released 21 November 2014
Sounds like: Florence + The Machine, Bjork, Sia
Say what? While tuning her guitar between songs, Montaigne told us about a festival where she played the entirety of ‘Clip My Wings’ with her guitar out of tune. To make matters worse, her mum recorded it and put it on Facebook! Oh dear.