MS MR – otherwise known as Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow, the odd-couple of indie pop – return to Melbourne at 170 Russell, formerly the sticky-floored party animal of Russell St, Billboards. Actually the floor is still sticky, which makes it hard to bounce to MS MR’s hardcore pop anthems.
Tigertown and George Maple, both promising local acts, welcome the jittery crowd who are visibly impatient for MS MR’s set. Tigertown panders infectious pop melodies with a harder rock edge, while Maple, backed by Touch Sensitive and Julian Sudek, draws in the crowd with her sultry hip-hop-inspired tunes.
Plapinger is the centrepiece of this disco pop duo – while she takes centre stage, her Mister sways in the shadows on the keys, joining her only for brief dance interludes. The lyrics, laced with dark and twisty elements, are constructed around anthemic truisms like “how does it feel” and “I just wanna be a criminal with you”. Hershenow didn’t have to try too hard to convince the crowd to sing along – the crowd rose to the occasion as they presented, for the first time, the live versions of their latest tracks.
The energy behind this act, Plapinger is equal parts spasm and grace. The pink flame-haired heroine behind the soaring vocals – often compared to Florence Welch – is destined to become an icon of stage antics, arriving with ladybug pom poms and fiercely dancing her way through all but the slowest songs. During these slower ballads, MS MR tends to wobble and lose momentum – they are at their best (and most powerful) when they’re bringing the crowd to their feet with their disco pop anthems like Painted.
Hershenow is trapped behind the keyboard but he could venture into the spotlight more often. After all, it’s MS and MR, and we’d like to see more of the latter. He grooves behind the keys, leaving the crowd to focus on his better half, matching her voice with pulsating electronic pop. They’re well-matched, save for the bass and drums’ propensity to dwarf the strength of Plapinger’s voice.
Catch MS and her MR at Splendour on Sunday, where they’ll be reviving the crowd with their new album, How Does It Feel.