Tash Sultana + Pierce Brothers @ MTELUS – 29th September 2017

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Tash Sultana and Pierce Brothers provided a night of multi-faceted, talented musicians and a sonic journey that I was nowhere near prepared for. After listening to each act’s recently released EPs, I expected an amazing show, but both acts blew their recorded work out of the water.

The Pierce Brothers started out with a bang, coming out in full force with “Amsterdam,” helping the crowd to sing along. Their set included some of their previous work, but mostly featured the songs from The Records Were Ours, their most recent release. Their performance could be described as pure energy with Jack Pierce, jumping around the stage, playing every instrument under the sun, including using his brother’s guitar as a drum. They combine the best of 90s alternative and Mumford and Sons-style contemporary alternative folk with an Australian twist. Before playing their instrumental “Self Portrait,” which focused on Patrick’s guitar, they gave a shout out to John Butler’s “Ocean,” who’s inspiration as a fellow Australian musician is clear.

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Between songs, their conversation was genuine and simple, bluntly guiding the audience from song to song, whether picking up the tempo or slowing down. As they moved into their power ballad, “Keep In Mind,” Jack prepared the crowd by saying that they were going to play “one really fucking depressing song” and would pick up the pace afterward. The power of Jack’s voice was even more evident as they played this song, due to the softer instrumental. Overall, they set the tone of the evening with their organic and fun performance.

Tash Sultana live

Tash Sultana came out with Bob Marley’s “Is This Love” as her walk-up song, setting the mood for her entire set. Her first song was “Big Smoke,” after which she emphasized that she had one rule for her show: there would be no hate in the room throughout show and any racists or homophobes should leave then.

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Her show was a sonic journey, turning each of her songs into an incredible jam-band style, jazz-influenced improvisation that isn’t seen enough in contemporary music. Although she doesn’t have the same stage presence as her opener, her passion and emotion fill the venue and guide the audience on this journey. Tash, alone on stage, filled the whole venue with so many different sounds of different genres and times. She not only played the songs from her EP, but she debuted a song, which the crowd loved.

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She finished her main set with “Notion” and the song that made her famous, “Jungle.” As she was starting “Jungle,” she stopped in order to shame a girl who had been arguing with another audience member by bringing her up on stage. She then picked up where she left off. For her encore, she brought out her acoustic guitar and performed a song with no looping. It was the perfect end to this crazy sonic journey, emphasizing her talent as a guitarist and vocalist.

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Now listening to both acts’ records, I can’t help but miss the unexpected twists and turns that came with their live performances. When Jack Pierce belts a powerful note, it’s somehow tempered by the production. When a Tash Sultana song ends, I find myself wishing it was one of her common pauses, which let the crowd catch up with her fast-paced style of music, or an intricate improvisation that displays what one person can really do with a guitar. I can’t wait to see both of these performers again.

Review – Rhodes Ford
Photos – Arianne Bergeron

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