Live Review: E^ST + The Money War + Elli Schoen – The Aviary, Perth (27.11.16)

It was impossible to escape the experience of live music last weekend in Perth, most notably with Flume and Arcadia taking over the city centre, but it was a cheeky little Sunday Session at The Aviary that really gave something memorable. Nearing the end of her Get Money EP tour, E^ST took over the secluded rooftop oasis with some help from locals Elli Schoen and The Money War.

Keen to check out Fremantle singer/songwriter Elli Schoen before her supporting slot for Julien Baker later this week, it was a great way to set off the afternoon. Blue skies, fake grass and water misters eased you into a pleasantly relaxed state ready to let those raw-edged, husky vocals wash over you. The percussion rising within latest single “Mumma” builds amongst deep echoing guitar as the perfect backdrop to the infectious chorus line that will surely be on Summer playlists everywhere.

Indie pop rock group The Money War followed, managing to fit their five piece set up onto the small stage, and wasted no time in spinning out their John Steel Singers-esque sound. Flitting between lead Dylan Ollivierre and bassist Carmen Pepper on vocals really added a dimension to the standard rolling indie tunes, the upbeat scuzzy psychedelic stylings of “Recall” feeling so different from the mellow and melancholy “Give It Time”. I’ll be keeping my eye out for these guys.

DJ NDORSE as the resident intermission expert didn’t disappoint as always, feeding us some tasteful old school mashup delicacies during the wait for the main act that had me wishing tomorrow was not a Monday.

For a millisecond, the stage seemed quite bare as E^ST appeared on stage with a single band member, the one manned guitar and keyboard set up settled in the back corner. The floor space was quickly reckoned with as the Central Coast singer launched into “The Alley”, dancing across stage with energy outta nowhere, the lyrics “Never get to stop, and catch my breath” signalling a true mantra for the nights set. The crowd quickly moved from their bar lingering and into the spot light, taking little encouragement to start bouncing along as E^ST poured out vocals like it was nothing. The joy of a live performance really sank in as we caught all those unique vocal catches that often get blurred away in production and just made each track come across as so much more honest and real.

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The intimacy of the fenced off venue only enhanced the face to face positivity beaming out, genuine smiles breaking out on stage and off as the set continued to pick up. Testing out some new tunes, we heard “Anti Hero” that brought some Atari inducing melodies through the guitar and synths, followed by “Monster”. Within the first few songs I saw so many similarities with breakthrough artists and more, all spun together to create such an original element. You miss those hectic vocal harmonies from Kimbra? Check. You want the crazy pop range from Montaigne? Tick.  A bit of dark sultry heartache goodness like Banks? Covered. A beat that explodes like a Nero climax? Done.

E^ST’s music is a culmination of everything electronic pop has to offer, with every track bearing a unique blend of dizzying synths, or low key guitar hooks, the diversity was intoxicating.

Another newie titled “Bad Choices” that came with a disclaimer, as E^ST grabbed a guitar for a solo moment saying she had only played the track a couple of times so was pretty nervous, and included a “fair warning” on her guitar skills. As the first notes echoed out one person behind me challenged that call in an incredulous whisper, if that’s being bad at guitar we’re all doomed. Have I mentioned the vocals yet? Like the quiet softly humming verses that unfold into these soaring gritty choruses with that beautiful Aussie twang sailing through?

That quiet confidence melted through every track as the set quickly banged out some heavier beats before running back into some crowd favourites. “Your Ghost” was dedicated to a new friend while “Get Money” kept the floor bustling, honestly if E^ST taught zumba, I would probably start exercising.

The whole set was fresh and refined without overdoing the polish, and the different instrumental layers never overshadowed those vocals, instead pushing the boundary of singer/songwriter meets dance pop. I am already looking forward to the next release.