Live Review: Little May at DC9, Washington DC – 24th October 2015

By on Tuesday, 27th October 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

Through having several close Aussie friends, I’ve gained remarkable insight on just how hard it is for an Australian band to break away and out of their home country. When one manages to do so, such a secure a major label contract in the UK, it is indeed A Big Deal, no pun intended. Little May, three talented young ladies from Sydney have done just that, now part of Island Records’ pop-drenched family in blighty (think Ben Howard and more recently, Dublin band The Coronas). The trio who dabble in pop, folk and rock sounds have released their debut album ‘For the Company’ this month. (You can read Steven’s thoughts on the new LP here.)

The band are an interesting proposition live, because some of their songs don’t sound at all like the way they look, if that makes sense. Liz Drummond (sometimes lead vocals and guitar) in her leather jacket and goth lipstick and purple-haired Annie Hamilton (guitar, synths and backing vocals) wearing all black ‘should’ be punks, which fits into the harder-edged Little May songs. On the other side of the spectrum, Hannah Field, lead vocalist on some of their songs, acted as band cheerleader. Wearing a shirt with the new album cover, getting down with the groove to dance onstage and smiling a lot, she seemed the most approachable of the bunch. The sweetly twangy ‘Bow & Arrow’ and the gently anthemic ‘Seven Hours’ are a great showcase of her lead vocal talent. The band unite in harmony on older song ‘Boardwalks’, a clear standout from the night.

Hannah Field of Little May, live in Washington at DC9

The girls worked with The National’s Aaron Dessner on their debut album, and Field explained how they were incredulous when he responded to their email with a request to have him as their producer. ‘The Shine is Brighter at Night’, which they cowrote with Dessner, was dedicated to him. Field and Liz Drummond’s self-deprecating stage patter and humour will definitely help them over their career, something Laura Marling has turned into an art form. Drummond related a story about a recent practise session during which a neighbour banged on their door and complained about their 2014 EP track ‘Hide’, saying to them, “your music is repetitive and jarring”, which of course the crowd laughed at. Field also big-upped state-run, Australian radio station triple j for their support of the band, trotting out a cover of Icehouse’s ‘Great Southern Land’ that they did for their long-standing Like a Version series and enlightening us on Icehouse’s prominence in Aussie musical history. (Past memorable moments in the Like a Version series include Glass Animals covering Kanye West’s ‘Love Lockdown’ and Divine Fits covering Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Hungry Heart’.)

Little May, live in Washington at DC9

However, it wasn’t until the very end of the show when we fully felt the heft and passion of Little May’s music, when they ended with ‘Remind Me’. Heavier and with a bluesy bent, it’ll be interesting to see what direction they go in for album #2, as they certainly have the chops to hone songwriting in either of the folk or rock sides of their band’s personality. Having just released their debut album, it feels like the band are still finding their feet in performing the newer material, but I expect they’ll be quite comfortable soon enough and as their North American tour rolls on. They’ll be in Minneapolis 7th Street Entry tonight, and then it’s onto the West Coast to wow crowds there through the 3rd of November.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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