Right off the bat I’ll admit I’m no expert when it comes to Fazerdaze. While it’s clear the New Zealander creates teen-angst lo-fi pop – amassing over three million views of her recent single ‘Lucky Girl’ on YouTube – I can hold my hands up and admit I’m not the target audience. Still, I had heard good things and, as she descended on Brighton to play at Sticky Mike's Frog Bar, I was intrigued to hear this up-and-coming musician play.
Following a long day in the Brightonsfinest office, wrapping up around 7.20pm and with an early 7.30pm start for the Friday night show, I had to dash across town on foot and bike to make it to the venue just in time to catch the opening number by local band Post Heather. Opening the door to Sticky Mike's with an escalated heartbeat already, the thundering combination of drums and guitar from Jack Watkins and Heather Sheret hit me like a gut punch.
Considering the early start, the venue was already filling up nicely for this shoegaze duo. The local two-piece have been in and around the Brighton scene for a while now and, with rumours of an EP on the way, they have recently ramped up their focus on the live show front.
Known previously for their psychedelic shoegaze-rock, they played a set featuring their back catalogue, including ‘Airplane’ and ‘Stone’, as well as a taster of what’s likely to come on their EP, with more pop-based numbers, such as their most recent release ‘Trust Fund’. Looking at issues of motivation and insecurity, the duo pack a rocking punch and, if their new music is anything to go by, I’m looking forward to hearing what else is to come.
Next up were North London band IDER. Utilising a synthesizer, keyboard and bass guitar, Megan Markwick and Lily Somerville produce pop songs laced with haunting vocals. Lyrically, the duo focus on the overarching emotional issues we all face on a daily basis, attempting to leave those feelings and attachments behind.
Stand out tracks from the evening included their a capella version of ‘GMLAA’, their latest single ‘Learn To Let Go’ (“So you got it together / But I'd rather be in my own mess”) and a slowed-down cover of Outkast’s ‘Roses’. Although not my vibe personally, the duo do produce catchy pop songs and are likely to find themselves on bigger stages by the time next summer’s festival season rolls around.
The final act of the evening was Amelia Murray, aka Fazerdaze. Returning to Brighton after her performance at The Great Escape Festival this year, Amelia and her three bandmates made their way on stage and began a set of lo-fi bubblegum pop tunes, dipping her toe in the shoegaze pond a number of times throughout the gig. Greeting the crowd downstairs at Sticky Mike’s, she announced, “I’ve just been in London and every time I go from London to Brighton I feel more relaxed”, which was met with a loud cheer and more than a few members of the audience clearly allowing a moment of mental backslapping throughout the venue.
At just 24 years old, the release of her debut album Morningside in May turned a few heads as she unveiled her cute fragility that’s layered time and time again with self-deprecation and teen angst. Writing, singing and playing practically every instrument on the record, and recording most of it from her room in (you guessed it) Morningside, Auckland, her tracks on the night came mostly from this debut album. The show’s midway point produced my personal highlight tonight with ‘Misread’: a jaunty tune camouflaging issues of self-doubt in a relationship, while other peaks came from tracks such as ‘Take It Slow’, ‘Bedroom Talks’ and ‘Half-Figured’:
“In my room, I'm so consumed by things that haven't happened yet
Sunlight drips in, night-time slips in
And I'm still here overthinking…
I've only half-figured it out”
While her bandmates complained about the difficulties of being tall in such a low-ceilinged room, all eyes were on Amelia as her easy-on-the-ear vocals and fuzz-pop short-but-sweet tunes captivated the packed out room.
One criticism of Morningside upon its release was its repetitive nature and lack of dynamic changes, however, it is the persona of Amelia that truly comes to the fore during her set and is what makes her live performance far more engrossing than the record allows. Appearing timid and somewhat self-conscious, her ability on-stage to draw the crowd in is truly consuming and, backed up with self-effacing lyrics and a solid band, it is no wonder she has been garnering so much attention of late.
Knowing little about all three acts prior to the show, the night was filled with performances that surpassed my expectations and I would urge anyone who has the chance to see these bands in town to check them out before they’re playing bigger venues.