I am very, very passionate about representation of women in music, and Melbourne Music Week have clearly put a lot of effort into diversifying their lineups for this year’s festival. The opening night show, Her Sound, Her Story, was a celebration of women in Australian music. It launched alongside a photographic exhibition on display at the Emporium (which I’m yet to see but you can bet I’ll be getting along to).
The upstairs at the State Library was transformed for the sold-out event, full of lights, a photobooth setup, multiple bars, and a whole heap of people. The space was long and thin, meaning spots at the front were very limited and contested, while those towards the back had to rely a bit more on their zoom function for any great photos.
The music lineup was perfection, kicking off with up-and-coming NYNE before the inimitable Mojo Juju took to the stage for a full set of bluesy greatness, including a slowed down version of Hotline Bling. After some lovely speeches, the show turned into a slight degustation of amazing artists, with each coming out to perform 2-3 songs along with some amazing overlapping features. Ella Hooper and Mojo Juju collaborated on a Kira Puru’s All Dulled Out, backed by a wonderful all-woman band who played with the rest of the artists during the night.
Covers were definitely a theme of the night – artists were given a list of songs by other Aussie women to pay tribute to, and the creative reimaginings were beautiful. Mama Kin brought out her 16-year-old-daughter Banjo to perform Kasey Chambers’ ‘Not Pretty Enough’, their voices blending as only family can. Montaigne performed a song with French lyrics ‘because [she] can speak French and wants to show off’ and I love her endlessly for that sentence.
Ecca Vandal did a brave and amazing cover of Killing Heidi’s ‘Weir’ with Ella Hooper herself standing just offstage, along with a few originals. I’d never seen her perform live but I’ll definitely be heading to her next Melbourne show.
There was one slight downside to the event ,in that female representation seemed to end after the stage. In a city full of great women and non-gnc sound engineers, seeing an all ‘dudebro’ team (as Mojo called them) behind the setups was a little disappointing.
For the grand finale, all the performers gathered on stage and the curators of the show and exhibition gave their love-filled speeches before Sampa the Great came to the stage and gave the perfect song for the night, her iconic ‘F E M A L E’ which I command all of you to go listen to right now.
Post Sampa, Elizabeth Rose took to the decks and everybody took the chance for some Friday night dancing to great 90’s and 2000’s hits, and I may or may not have spotted Sampa dancing directly in front of her video bio, which was glorious to witness.
Melbourne Music Week kicked off with a total party, and there’s a whole heap more to come.
Jasmin Ashton is a PR whiz and freelance writer/designer from Melbourne who has a lot of feelings about pretty much everything. Find them at @Jasmanna.