Montgomery @ Black Bear Lodge, 15th May
Friday nights in Fortitude Valley always offer plenty of things to see and do, and on this occasion Black Bear Lodge, situated in the heart of the Brunswick Street Mall, is the main attraction. The narrow yet cosy upstairs bar is the final stop for Gold Coast singer-songwriter Montgomery’s New Clear War EP tour and has the venue at near capacity.
I arrive at the venue to find we have missed out on first support act Motion Picture Actress, however we are just in time to see second support Tabrill take the stage. Cheekily arranging his synth pad, mixer and laptop on a fold-out ironing board, he has the small but vocal crowd moving with a veritable bevy of dance numbers. From smooth slow jams to bass heavy raves, Tabrill showcases a wide variety of styles, even throwing in remixes of tracks from Flume, Kilter and an ironic down-tempo reworking of Miami Horror’s Real Slow. A neat little pick-me-up for the crowd to enjoy.
After what seems like an eternity, the lights dim, a cheer goes around the room and the enigma that is Montgomery reveals herself. With a secretive media presence that would put Sia to shame – notices around the venue asked for no photography during her set – she uses this to her advantage, allowing the audience to focus solely on the music. Explaining halfway through the set that a second person manned the keyboard and synths at her previous shows, she’s going solo tonight, commendably scrambling between them to deliver immensely dark electro-pop as the cubes on each corner of the stage light up at regular intervals.
With tracks like Not Around giving off a hearty retro feel, thus drawing obvious comparisons to CHVRCHES, and others reminiscent of Banks, Montgomery distances herself from both with a fantastic vocal range and a charismatic stage presence. Her breathtaking covers of Arcade Fire’s Wake Up and Drake’s Hold On, We’re Going Home draw massive cheers; however the Lodge’s set-up, weak sound mixing and tinny speakers dampen the experience slightly.
Ending the night not knowing if her instruments are working properly, Montgomery jokes that her final song might be an acoustic number, but soon the problems are fixed and the entire room joins in on a fantastic rendition of Pinata to round out the night.
For a first official tour, this is a promising start for the youngster. With just one EP to her name Montgomery has built a solid but vocal fanbase, and aided by a camera-shy persona she has many people, including myself, intrigued as to what happens next. Here’s hoping she performs again very soon!