“It’s so good to be home,” says Alex Lahey, exerting a big sigh of content. The crowd cheer in response, echoing their equally pleased gratitude towards her return. She smiles. “This is a song called “Wes Anderson”…” and just like that, the packed out band room of the Corner Hotel erupts into a giant singalong, matching every word that leaves Lahey’s mouth. On tour to celebrate the release of her debut album, I Love You Like A Brother, there is something about Lahey that has fans begging for more. Playing to a full crowd in Melbourne for the second night in a row, there’s a sense of magic in the air and it’s contagious.
The night opens with Angie McMahon, another Melbourne local, and Sloan Peterson, a 50’s inspired garage rock act hailing from Sydney. Both acts put in the paces to deliver a quality set and keep the crowd on their toes until Lahey’s arrival.
As the eager crowd wait for the head liner, 80s and 90s tunes fill the room keeping everyone steadily grooving. Then the main lights go out, and a blue light floods the space- a hushed murmur of, ‘It’s happening,’ washes over. Lahey appears and goes straight into “Everyday’s a Weekend”, making the audience go from a steady groove to hard core thrashing. The devotion and adoration is clear. The way everyone yells along to the lyrics and throws their body into the chorus shows that there’s something here that is more than meets the eye.
Maybe it’s the lyrics? Lahey has a way of perfectly capturing the awkward, lonely feelings that come with your 20’s; specifically the tedious development of relationships. “This one’s called “Working Title Breakup 17”, she jokes, ‘Or more commonly known as “Perth Traumatic Stress Disorder”. Two girls standing in front of me latch their arms around each other, “I resent the way you made me love your Western town,” they yell, a little too strongly to not have some kind of connection to the lyrics.
Maybe it’s the way the music is sewn together? Whilst each song has a distinct set of sing-along choruses, (“Ivy League”, “I Need To Care Of Myself”, to name a few) the instrumentals are tied in to deliver a tight punk-pop dynamic. This adds a different flavour to the type of indie rock we’re used to hearing. Lahey’s voice is soft and girlish, but mixed with the crunch of the guitar, it wields a strong authority.
Or maybe it’s her humble charm? Playing her second sold out show at the Corner, she tells us that last year she played at The Old Bar to 80 people. “This is just amazing, thank you so much,” she gushes. Charting at number 15 on the ARIA charts and only just releasing her first album, she’s come a long way in a short period of time.
However, standing there listening to and watching the magic unfold, I can’t help but think that the thing that has Lahey’s fans so captivated is her ability to make you feel like she’s just an old friend you’ve known for years.
“At every show we choose an MVP, in Adelaide it was the girl that farted to make sleazy boys leave her alone; in Sydney it was the girl that had three Tinder dates on the go and in Brisbane, it was the guy who said I love you to his girlfriend for the first time during this song….here’s “I Want You”.”
She talks to the audience with such ease, and as she wraps up the night with two of her biggest hits, “Let’s Go Out”, and “You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me”, she sings with understanding. Knowing that, telling her story helps others feel theirs.
The reviewer attended this show on October 18th.