REVIEW + PICS: George Maple | Oxford Art Factory, Sydney

Future Classic has been developing George Maple for a while. The singer has only given a handful of performances and dropped out a smattering of excellent tunes in the meantime doing only a few press interviews. Now with a sold-out national tour and EP in hand, it makes sense why they have been hiding her away. That element of exclusivity is appealing and as fans going to watch her on her first headline tour, it felt as if we were meeting Maple for the first time.

Walking onto stage Maple looks every bit as mysterious as you would have imagined. She's surrounded by illuminated smoke and dressed in a slinky black outfit, weighed down by gold cuffs. Immediately the guys fell in love with her and the girls wanted to be her. Before she even opened her voice, her presence was immediately felt. Her look was polished and her stance was confident. It didn't feel like we were witnessing an artist's first headline show in Sydney, it felt like she'd just released the best album of the year and was returning to Sydney for a victory-lap tour.

As soon as she opened her mouth, her allure only grew stronger. Starting with one of her early favourites, Fixed, she elongated her arms out over the audience and moved her body like silk. Her vocal alone is enough for her live show to be excellent but she's really focussed on her movement too, marrying both features together to create an altogether fascinating image. Gripp popped up early in the set and collected everyone's mouthes off the floor and loosened things up. For all her smooth, measured moves, Maple looked as if she was having fun.

Maple shares a number of qualities with British songstress Jessie Ware. Not only are their vocals breathy and refined but the pair share the juxtaposition between their approach to music and their onstage demeanour. Both deliver incredibly intense, focussed performances but split every song with jovial banter. It's the type that makes you not only like their music but like them as a person. And that's what makes punters continue to flood back to shows.

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Throughout the set, Maple's strongest moments come when the crowd is one hundred percent on board. A version of Gemini, her track with "a very special friend" What So Not starts a mosh, garnering a reaction that suggests the song will continue to get bigger this year. She amps the crowd up by challenging them to be better than Coachella - a stage in which she stood with What So Not only a week before. It's a big ask for a cramped-in Oxford Art Factory but they do their best and the energy began to swell. Maple capitalised on the extra excitement, dropping her latest single Where You End And I Begin. The throwback RnB tune has the songstress pulling out her sexiest moves and has the rest of the audience doing their best to emulate.

What really confirmed the appeal of Maple's voice during the night was the reaction to her new songs. As an artist with only one EP it's often hard to captivate a crowd for close to an hour but Maple seemed to have no problem. The texture and sheer strength of her voice grips you from the get-go really making you listen to the new songs with intent. Slow Dance stood out as a particular highlight with its sultry, '80s RnB vibes.

With the crowd firmly eating out of her hands, Maple ended the night with her most successful single to date - Talk Talk. It felt as if everyone in the audience had finally gotten to know the singer by this point and the track garnered the biggest singalong of the night.

After a few drinks we tweeted, "Calling it. the best Aussie act we've seen since starting this lil' thing." Now, in the harsh light of day we still agree. Maple's show was electrifying from start to finish. It's a hard-slog as a new female artist building a fanbase in Australia but Maple seems to be having more success than most of her peers at the moment. Our exports this year at Coachalla were entirely male (bar the wonderful Alison Wonderland and Julia Stone) but it feels like that heavy majority is set to change. Based on her display in Sydney, it's very clear that Maple has everything she needs to become one of Australia's strongest forces overseas and locally.

Photos: George Maple at Oxford Art Factory, Sydney | Photos By Bianca Bosso
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REVIEW: Shamir | The Echo, Los Angeles


It's hard to standout on the internet today. Every day Soundcloud is awash with new talent, many that could catch break with one single song. It's easy to see why 20 year-old Las Vegas newcomer Shamir immediately caught the attention of many. Firstly it was his voice - high pitched and different to anything that we've heard, it commands attention. Secondly his songwriting is such that it's shy and heartfelt while remaining sassy and in your face.

Sassy and shy are the best two words to describe the first show of Shamir's album headline tour with the juxtaposition making you both relate to him and want to be him. Looming over the mic stand, Shamir looked awkward with a youthful charm when he first took to the stage. He seemed as if he had no idea what to do with his hands and was immediately overwhelmed by the strong turnout.

Those sound like the best way to preface a review of a train wreck show, but Shamir's live show was quite the opposite. Once you watch for a while his awkwardness becomes part of his IDGAF charm.

Shamir's songs, particularly the new ones he previewed, call for plenty of attitude. He mimicked the words with his hands and threw in plenty of eye rolls as he dealt with notions of being a hot mess and not being able to drink when you're only 20. It may seem silly but the strength of the tracks that are set to make up his debut album Ratchet is that they are unashamedly party tracks. They're groovy, bass-driven and elevated by euphoric chorus'. It's not mainstream, cut and dry pop though, it's the kind of pop that Nile Rodgers would trade in.

On The Regular was our first taste from the new album that we knew and it expectedly went off. For the first time Shamir pulled away from the mic stand and dropped the shy act to deliver lines like "Just so you know, yes, yes, I'm the guy." Complete with cow bells, live, the song proved just how much energy that song can burst with.

He followed it up by bringing in the disco groove with early track I Know It's A Good Thing. Unlike On The Regular, here, we really got to hear Shamir's voice in all it's crackling, high-pitched glory. It may be a voice that's hard to make reason with at first but after a while you're drawn in by its sincerity. At times it went slightly wayward and at times it was unbelievably on-point and that's what made it so intriguing.

As for the new songs many of the them were driven by a deep vocal sample and there was more than a few that feature the cowbell (thank goodness). They oscillated between dance floor stunners and indie pop/rock venturing close to Bloc Party's early, youthful aesthetic.

For second single Call It Off Shamir unleashed his long dreads, flipping the a round as he bounced from one end of the stage to the other. The song at first doesn't seem as immediately appealing at On The Regular, but live it proved that it's a slow-burner and more than capable of being a bigger hit than its predecessor.

You really get the feeling Shamir's one step away from a radio hit that will blow his status up. In a world where kids are devouring half-arsed songs about living in the moment, Shamir sincerely captures youthful. It's a little bratty, a little nonchalant and a lot of fun. Before he could even finish his final song he launched into the crowd giving out as many hugs as he possibly could before disappearing - here for a good time not a long time.


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REVIEW: Jessie Ware | Terminal 5, New York

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Image: JessieWare Instagram

Jessie Ware is essentially a deconstructed pop star - one that has cut the crap, removed the glass facade and kept the impossible style that makes people want to idolise you. Through her honest songwriting, social media approach and onstage demeanour Ware makes you feel as if she's your best-friend but then she opens her voice and makes you feel as if you should bow down in the presence of greatness.

Last night at a sold out show in New York we were in the presence of greatness. Not the Hyperbolic Beyonce as a higher-being type but the human type. One that lays all her flaws out on the table and yet still manages to deliver the most sophisticated, refined performance around while also making punters swoon, gasp and cry.

From the get go it's clear that Ware's show is going to be monochromatic. Dressed in all-black, the British songstress gives off a brooding presence while the white fabric draping from the ceiling creates some light without colour. Many performers can get lost in this kind of pared-back approach to their image. It's one that can swallow you up and fade you into the background. Not Ware though. Her greatest strength live was her ability to standout and juxtapose her surrounding with a smack-full of personality.

Running introduced Ware to the music scene perfectly back in 2012 and last night it also introduced the show, creating a precursor for what was to come. Ware slid around the stage to slinky synths weaving her honey-silken vocals through elongated melodies. For the first part of the set it felt like she barely broke a sweat, moving from Champagne Kisses to Cruel to If You're Never Gonna Move at a steady pace, choosing to slowly unleash her charm over the crowd. She barely spoke to the crowd during this beginning part, seemingly opting to let he music do the talking before opening her mouth and let out her brash English accent. When she did open her mouth it felt as if she'd made the room feel two people small. She gushed about how much she loved New York, called the American visa system a "pain in the arse" after she was left without a drummer last minute (Dornik stepped in to save the day) and swore at someone for ruining her segway into a song by yelling out the tracklist.

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It was this switch between her beautifully slow-dancing songs and her kick about banter that made people gaze at her starry eyed and then laugh with her as if she was their best mate. Of course, there was more than just banter to enjoy. Her setlist, mostly made-up of songs from her most recent album Tough Love, perfectly showcased her approach to writing a subtle pop song and her soaring voice. Title track Tough Love was understated and dignified while song like Sweet Talk and Sweetest Song laid-down a creeping groove.

Collaborator Dev Hynes was in the audience and she used the opportunity to perform his co-write on the album Want Your Feeling. With warm keys driven by a funky guitar riff, Ware delivered one of the nights highlights making people dance with a song that sounds so unsuspecting. She prefaced it by saying that she's written "some" of her best songs in NYC like that and Nicki Minaj's The Crying Game. She joked that she didn't want the latter so she said "there love you can have it," to Nicki Minaj. We imagine the conversation might of gone a little bit differently.

There was plenty of love in the crowd too with Ware's You & I (Forever) introduced with a successful marriage proposal which Ware celebrated by jumping around the stage. The groom-to-be had picked a perfect setting to propose almost of the night celebrated all facets of love from the rose-coloured charm of Champagne Kisses to the stupid-in-love notions of Keep On Lying.

Got to love a proposal man A photo posted by Jessie Ware (@jessieware) on

Ware proves that you can do a lot with very little. Refinery was key last night with Ware climbing a steady trajectory towards her epic closer which saw her go all-out vocally, along with the crowd who acted as backup singers. That closer was Say You Love Me, a track that shares similar qualities with Sam Smith's Stay With Me and should've been her key to mainstream chart success.

Ware is undoubtedly one of the classiest singers around. She commanded the stage bereft of tricks and without any preconceived notions of how she wanted to portray herself. She's an honest songwriter and an equally honest performer and the crowd rewarded her for that in droves. As it should be she left the stage without giving an encore. Just another example of how little bullshit she trades in.


REVIEW + PICS: Years & Years | (Le) Poisson Rouge, New York

There's a few things that you tick off along the way when you're a hyped band to validate that you're on the right track. Infiltrating the blogs, winning over the critics and scoring a number one single are all good indicators but perhaps the biggest is playing a sold out show in New York City.

Brits Years & Years are yet to really crack the charts in the US but they have managed a number one single in the UK with King and last night at (Le) Poisson Rouge it seemed as if the hype had traveled the seas. A packed out room stood waiting for the band to take the stage for the last show of their US tour, many of them donning Years & Years crowns.

Taking to the stage with Take Shelter it was immediately clear how the band have kicked so many goals in such a short amount of time. They oscillate between soul, pop and house music, effortlessly borrowing the good elements of commercial music and blending the, together to make something delectable. Take Shelter also confirms that the band have already developed a small but dedicated following in the US - one that know all their released material inside out.

Though frontman Olly Alexander was clearly suffering from illness, coughing in between songs, he still managed to push through and deliver silky smooth vocals complete with dance moves. He's shy, but there was a quiet confidence poking through as he hurled his arms around the air in the dance breaks of each of the tracks.

The band continued to fire out gold for the entirety of the night offering a short but impressive set that made it impossible to believe that they haven't even released their debut LP. Memo offered a beautifully solemn moment, one where we got to truly hear Alexander's vocal capabilities while early track Real brimmed with popping beats and a brilliant chorus that found a perfect balance between RnB and electronica.

The few new songs they played sat much in the same lane as what we've heard from them before, only extending the belief that the band have more than just one hit single up their sleeves from their forthcoming album Communion. Even Worship which is only a matter of weeks old found huge favour with the crowd as they elevated its gospel-flavoured chorus. Many of Years & Years' songs are crafted around those types of hands-in-the-air moments that can only be properly realised when the whole crowd is on board.

Things really heated up for the final few songs of the set kicking off with the strobing bass of Desire. Desire sits in the dance lane more so than any of their other tracks and that works strongly to their favour in the live arena. It was the first true jumping moment if the night and the band lapped up the ramped-up energy.

After a short and perhaps unnecessary break the band returned for an encore of their massive hit King. The song with it's howling synths and meteoric chorus rightfully provided the golden moment of the night. The crowd sang ever word back with mighty passion, giving the sense that it won't be long before this infiltrates the charts in the US (it's slowly doing so in Australia).

Years & Years' best sets are yet to come as they're set to join the European festival circuit armed with a debut album but their New York show provided a short showcase that one, proved we should believe the hype and two, built excitement for what will be one of the best selling debuts of the year. Rarely has pop music ever sounded this good and come so guilt-free.

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Read our interview with Years & Years here.


REVIEW: Black Vanilla At Civic Underground, Sydney

Australia has built itself a neat electronic music scene over the past few years. It’s seen a network of collaborations build and flourish with the likes of Chet Faker and Flume or Basenji, Cosmo's Midnight and Wave Racer making music and playing club nights together. No collaboration, however, has come with more raw energy or aggression that the triple hit of Marcus Whale (Collarbones), Lavurn Lee (Guerre) and Jarred Beeler (DJ Plead) who operate as Black Vanilla.

Over the past few years Black Vanilla have churned out a smattering of excellent releases but as the group prove tonight they really prosper in the live setting. There’s something about the music and movement that Black Vanilla deliver on stage that translates to an almost violent dance-off. We’re talking the same kind of pent up release that you would see at a metal show only instead of the circle of death, it’s a mosh pit of excellent, angular dance moves.

Marcus Whale is, for the most part, the leader of these dance moves. He throws his body around from start to finish hitting every accent with an equally hard-hitting dance pose. It’s impossible not to feel like moving with every muscle in your body. In fact, the music commands it. Thudding bass and industrial, after-midnight synths induce sweat immediately. It’s beautifully melodic music but coated in a hard armour which ricochets off every wall at the intimate Civic Underground. One scan around the room and you’d be hard pressed to find one person not laying their life on the line in the name of dance with the pit looking like a combustion of energy exploding.

Lee’s solo work as Guerre is impressively lushes but here it’s his quasi-rapping that makes the biggest impression. Hovering over the crowd, Guerre stares down people as he delivers a dark, affecting vocal with the mic cord wrapped around his hand. On a day when Death Grips streamed their final album it was hard not to make the comparison between the two. While it’s easier to see the human side in Black Vanilla the two groups share the same raucous energy on stage.

Some songs soften the atmosphere with more immediate melody while others like Cloaks have a vibe that pulls you into the depths of the dance floor. The soft murmurings of Lee at times feel like the words of a higher being. For the entirety of the set the three of them bounce off each other. It seems their combined energy is what works in Black Vanilla. They optimise the benefits of collaboration and all give each other a bit of gusto to go harder.

Whale precedes the final song with a dedication to anybody who has ever struggled with the boundaries of gender by definition. Black Vanilla embody the freak within all of us and as the final song throbbed and strobed it seemed for a second as if nobody had a gender to go by. When you’re in an atmosphere where not one person is ashamed to be acting the way they are, it’s hard to feel one ounce of self-consciousness. Such is Black Vanilla’s triumph.

Whale asked us to film this song on our phones. So we did.

#blackvanilla murder on the dance floor @astral_people

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REVIEW: Hayden James at Oxford Art Factory, Sydney


Hayden James brought his Something About You tour to his hometown of Sydney on Friday night, playing to a sold-out crowd in the sweaty confines of the Oxford Art Factory.

James took to the stage after a solid opener by Mickey Kojak, a neon sign lighting up his name below the decks (it changed colour, though the show kicked off in baby pink) in front of a kaleidoscopic screen of slow-moving graphics. Over a 1-and-a-half hour set, James exercised fun and originality intertwining his signature mellow synths and slow, deep-house beats with everything from Kendrick Lamar’s Swimming Pool to his sensual, soothing version of Dillon Francis’ Without You.

The crowd seemed to be made up of fans that have followed James from the get-go, dating back to initial hit Permission To Love released in 2013, judging by the crazy cheer when he announced it. Fellow Future Classic artist Flume made a cameo with a densely layered version of breakout single You and Me. James tended to favor fellow Aussie tunes throughout the set, including a nod to Rufus who he supported on their sell-out Australian tour in 2014, as well as Alison Wonderland. James also opened for Odesza on their 2014 North American tour, prefacing his most recent single and final song of the night, Something About You with a remix of Say My Name.

At this point, in a sweet yet possibly not overly thought-through move, James invited the crowd to jump on stage with him and obviously, they obliged. His decks were on a wheeled table, so he may have regretted the invitation once the stage became a jumping orgy of over-excited fans threatening to send his equipment flying. Guy must really love them to prioritize their fun over a little old insurance/OH&S hazard.
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Photos by Bianca Bosso


REVIEW + PICS: Tinashe At Metro Theatre, Sydney | Aquarius Tour


Australia doesn’t seem like the most likely place for a DIY RnB singer to make a splash but it seems US singer Tinashe has struck a chord here. 2 On, the first single from her debut album Aquarius is burning up radio here now almost a full year after its initial release and last night she played to a sold out Metro Theatre. It’s one thing to be sold out but it’s another thing to induce hysteria when you enter the stage. As she strutted on behind a puff of smoke the crowd erupted as a sea of iPhones revealed themselves as if Beyonce had suddenly appeared in a busy Westfield.

Tinashe is an interesting case. She’s been compared to Aaliyah, Ashanti and Janet Jackson yet she differs to them. While Aquarius was undoubtedly an RnB album she’s worked with everybody from Calvin Harris to Ryan Hemsworth and Dev Hynes proving just how expansive the genre in which she operates has become. On stage she has the same slinky stage presence as FKA twigs with the hard hitting dance moves of Ciara and the vocal prowess of Jessie Ware. With just a drum to the side of the stage and four back-up dances, the petite Tinashe fills the stage effortlessly.

She began with Vulnerable from her mixtape Black Water immediately hitting with her caramel vocals and sultry walk. “Don’t stop looking at me”, she sings as her voice hits full flight, slicing the air and creating gasps in the process. Her dance moves are immediately impressive but they’re never feel over-rehearsed. There’s a certain rawness to Tinashe that makes her far more endearing. Even when the back-up dancers joined her it always felt as if they were five friends improvising rather than counting every single beat.

The Dev Hynes-produced Bet was the first song of the set where we really got to hear her vocals in full force. Bet is extraordinarily atmospheric thanks to Hynes’ expert layering and it complements the bursts of smoke covering Tinashe. All of the songs from her debut album are binded by a sense that there’s a wave washing over and this was the first time that we really get to feel that texture.

The set bounced between mixtape and album tracks and even threw in a few popular RnB tracks to hype a crowd which was already at fever point. The hard hitting Watch Me Work was complemented beautifully by the tender How Many Times. She moves between the energetic and the slow effortlessly never sucking the energy out of the crowd, even in the dimmest moments of the night. A portion of Kid Ink’s Body Language was served while Tinashe composed herself for her Calvin Harris-feature, Dollar Signs. A thumping bass-line and glassy percussion sent the crowd wild while Tinashe fist-pumped like she was owning the stage at Tomorrowland. It’s far from her best song but live it was a chance to let loose some pent up energy.

She followed that by sitting on a stool to give us the only ballad of the night, Bated Breath. It was pretty special to see her sitting still and just showing off her crystalline voice. She belted it out with reckless abandon as she slowly stood on the stool and looked over the crowd. No doubt her view was awash with the glow of smartphones. It seemed everything she did was worthy as being captured as not one punter kept their phones away for the entirety of the set. Instead of letting it annoy her Tinashe accepted it, at one point grabbing a phone from someone and filming herself. She’s 22 and she gets that this is what people do now. For the first time it felt like the mass of smartphones didn’t take away from the show. Instead it felt like a sign of appreciation.

As we got to the final moments of the set Tinashe churned out hit after hit. The drummer thrashed away at Turn Down For What while she and her dancers went hard to a recording of Rae Sremmund’s No Type. The biggest revelation of the night was just how perfect All Hands On Deck. The track is set to be the third single from Aquarius and last night it revealed itself as the most effortlessly delectable of the set.

Pretend and 2 On were always going to be the champions of the night and they were. A beefed-up Pretend saw Tinashe offer one of the more tender moments of the night with the dim-lit vibe of the song suiting the smokey atmosphere. As she directed the crowd to put two fingers in the air, the screams could’ve been heard from far down George St. Despite the tracks minimalistic instrumental, the melody is just so smooth with enough pop to direct the crowd to get down low. Tinashe spent the later part of the song hanging over the crowd lapping up all the love that was there for her in abundance.

As she left the stage she smiled and offered some words of advice about following your dreams. She’s a self-made star in every sense and she seemed to be taken aback by her transformation from making mixtapes in her bedroom to playing to a sold out room on the other side of the world.

Tinashe at The Metro Theatre: Gallery 
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REVIEW: Collarbones at Newtown Social Club | Return Album Launch


“Collarbones are like the Beatles of my generation.” – Travis Cook’s t-shirt, 2015

Fresh from festival appearances at Beyond The Valley and Field Day and the release of their third album, Return, Collarbones hit the road and we were lucky enough to catch them on the first leg of their tour. Managing to make the first gig of the tour their first ever sell out- it was bound to be an electric and memorable night.

Sydney synth-pop trio, Yoke, kicked off the night sending the entire audience into a hypnotic trance. Frontman Kyle’s super smooth vocals could only be described as the perfect combination of Fergie and Jesus. Paired with perfectly woven harmonies and elevating synth and keys by Jules and Corin, Yoke are definitely one to watch this year.

The stage was more than warmed up after performing crowd favourites such as Pink Crystal Heart and Burden off their latest EP, Jabiluka.

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HTMLflowers is honestly my favourite person in the world right now. As he walked onto stage sporting a Mac, thick plastic-rimmed glasses, white tennis shorts, a black zip-up jumper and mad scientist hair – I had no idea of what I was in for. Flowers yelled “TWENTY FIFTEEN!” numerous times before breaking into his first track of the set, B4 THE INTERNET WAS BORN.

The energy that this dude brought to the room was incredible – everyone was reeled in by his experimental beats and hard-hitting lyrics. Flowers’ quirky antics and rhymes won the hearts and full attention of the entire audience.

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The reception of Collarbones as they walked on stage was intense. It was a sold-out show and Travis and Marcus were noticeably excited to deliver a collection of tracks including old favourites like Teenage Dream, Burnout and Hypothermia whilst introducing newbies from Return.

The boys began their set with the atmospheric and echoic Flush which sent a captivating wave over the crowd that settled everyone for a few minutes. The tranquil quickly vanished as they dropped Only Water, which was laced with heavy synth and a hook that will stay in your mind for weeks- it was clear this was a definite crowd favourite.

It’s clear that Travis has a knack of holding the audience in his palm as he layers element upon element, keeping everyone in suspense and waiting for the drop. In I Would I Will, I felt as if Marcus’ vocals were at times subdued by the power of the synth and Travis’ decks. 

One of their earlier releases, Die Young, lacked emotion from the pair and I felt as if this was the least gripping track of the night. Emoticon brought life (and a little RnB vibe) back into the duo and the crowd, with Marcus jumping around the stage and Travis head banging behind his decks. This was their latest single released off the album and caused the crowd to lose all inhibitions and control of their bodies. Following this banger was another, Turning. The electricity that flowed throughout the whole audience was evident as members of the crowd sang along with Marcus, “I’m not giving it up!”

No, Collarbones are not giving it up. They’ve embarked on a national tour, experienced selling out for the first time (the good type) and are on their way to conquer the world. This was a gig that Collarbones should definitely be proud of.

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