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In Review: MS MR sweeps up Sydney at Splendour sideshow

– Check our interview with Max Hershenow from MS MR here.

Although excited about the prospect of an evening with two of my favourite artists in the Splendour sideshow line-up, I was worried about bumping into to someone I knew (having never been to a concert alone before) and the subsequent conversations that would follow:

“Oh hey! Who are you here with?”

“Oh just myself haha.”

“Oh, you’re alone? Why haha.”

“I’m reviewing it, and there wasn’t room for +1s so I’m here by myself. I have friends, I promise!

*Slowly backs away away in horror*

Approaching the stairs of the Metro, my heart pulsated anxiously. I ascended the stairs and no one seemed to recognise me. Entering the venue was a little trickier. There were tiers up the back of the venue for revellers who preferred a better vantage point and a little more elbow room. I navigated them as deftly and inconspicuously as I could until I was right at the back. 

I took my place next to a blonde haired youth self-consciously, hoping he wouldn’t think I was some freak sidling up to him in a desperate attempt to have friends. Luckily, he also seemed to be unaccompanied.

When the music came on, he swayed with his head down, in time to the beat, as if in a solitary trance of musical nirvana, connecting to the music in a very unique, individual way.

But soon, much to my avail, Sydney local George Maple took to the stage, bursting onto the scene in an explosion of lights and auditory eargasms. Wearing a fluffy, white fur jacket and a sexy bodice, she was accompanied by partner in crime, the synth-tastic Touch Sensitive on keys, remarking that they had just arrived from their Splendour slot the day before, and we “had better be louder”.

Next was Fixed and Vacant Space, a gradual crescendo of flashing lights and thrashing drums, ending in a note that brought goose bumps to your skin. It’s one of my favourite songs in her repertoire, ending on a ghostly, apocalyptic note echoing off into the fray.

With no intermission at all, she launched into her collaboration with Kilo Kish & Kwes Gripp, commending her drummer Jules before launching into a song, with a beat not all all dissimilar to J-Kwon’s Tipsy and with an enormously melodic and catchy synth rift by Touch Sensitive that magnified the incredibly sexy charisma exuded by Maple.

Performing Gemini by What So Not next, it was by far the most energetic track of their set, with Maple reaching impossibly high vocal notes in a display of auditory showmanship. Finishing on Talk Talk, Maple and her entourage swiftly departed the stage.

If I thought that performance was energetic, I was about to be blown away by what came next. When the MS MR ensemble took to the stage, Lizzy Plapinger (the MS of MS MR) and her powerful voice permeated the entire venue, her silhouette and hair lit ablaze by the pulsating lights behind her. Other half Max Hershenow, matched her energy by jigging his legs beneath him maniacally, albeit rhythmically, like the loom of a sewing machine, somehow managing to remain affixed to his keyboard only by his hands.

Plapinger greeted the crowd with genuine enthusiasm, screaming ‘Sydney’, rousing everyone to a deafening roar. Having just released their sophomore album How Does It Feel, the Sydney crowd was unique in being the second to hear it performed live.

Second song to played was Fantasy, off first album Secondhand Rapture. Plapinger moved with an incomparable energy the entire time, literally taking centre stage with her powerful charisma. She truly moves in her own way, dancing between the beams of translucent light jubilantly, a kaleidoscopic display to match the power of her own.

Everyone on stage seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves and the crowd loved them. They stopped intermittently between song to express their gratitude at the turnout and dedication of each punter jumping up and down wildly in excitement. Their Sydney fan base was evident by the crowd, who knew the words to most of their new songs, despite the album being out only a week.

During one of her renditions, Plapinger spun her microphone round like a pendulum, effortlessly catching it mid-swing and continuing on with her performance, shaking the entire venue with her husky, powerful voice and resonate bass.

One of the highlights of the night had to be title track How Does It Feel – written about the amazing performances Plapinger and Hershenow experienced during their last visit to Australia in 2013 for Splendour in the Grass. They urged everyone to sing along with them during the chorus, screaming ‘How does it feel!’ in rapturous glee.

After such a series of high energy medleys, everything was slowed down with performances of Wrong Victory and Criminals, a welcome, poignant moment in the night. 

Seemingly finishing off on their first single from their second album, Painted, before leaving the stage, the crowd was left hungry for more. But much to everyone’s relief, they returned, Plapinger chiding the crowd, “C’mon! You didn’t think we’d leave you like that!” They finished off their performance with two of their most well known songs, Bones and Hurricane, a perfect end to their perfomance.

What I realised about going alone to a concert is that, if you love the artist and enjoy their music, at the of the day it doesn’t matter if you’re on your own. When you listen to the music you love, everything else around you fades into the background, until you’re left with what you came here for: an experience.