Egoism | Live Review
Photography: Kim Phan | @averagecabbage.mp3
Sydney duo Egoism debuted their single ‘What Are We Doing’ at the Chippo Hotel this Saturday 24 August. Coming off the back of their August stint as triple j Unearthed feature artist, Egoism has a big month in store, heading to Bigsound in Brisbane in early September. The Sydney duo has made their mark in the thriving Inner West indie music scene, their unique sound characterised by harmony-heavy dream pop with ‘90s shoegaze influence. Nothing if not supportive, the lineup for the night, Olive Rush, Felix Lush, and Egoism, all stayed to watch each other play. Scout—one half of Egoism—even had her parents manning the merch desk like pros.
Egoism’s very own Olive Rush opened for the night, showing off a more electronic side than we’ve seen before. Olive gave an impressive performance considering it was their first experience as a solo performer, bringing inventive sampling, plus home-mixed backing tracks to their live act. A cover of Alicia Keys’ ‘Unthinkable (I’m Ready)’ and original ‘Not Ok’ were highlights, making it clear that Olive’s beat-forward solo project fits well into the emerging Aussie trapgaze scene.
Felix Lush were up next. The five piece had a polished sound, nostalgic synth moments supporting frontman Felix’s strong vocals, and bringing up the energy of the Chippo Hotel basement. Playing a good mix of sweaty, energetic tracks with a couple slower ones, Felix even managed to make a stumble look unbearably cool and nonchalant. Having recently signed with Bleeding Knees Club’s management, Jerko, hopefully we’ll be seeing more of this local outfit.
Despite the brevity of their set—taking up only 30 minutes—Egoism managed to pack a lot into their live show. The duo were joined on stage by a drummer and electric guitarist, rounding out the sound and bringing it to life. The four-piece seemed comfortable together, even with this being their first time on stage as a unit.
Opening with ‘Enemies’, Egoism combined existential dread with buoyant dream pop and animated, if restrained, on-stage dancing. A miscalculation by the sound production mixer had the lyrics overpowered at the outset, but after some rejigging, lead singers Scout and Olive were able to showcase their unique and distinctly different voices with perfect harmonies.
Full of plaintive lyrics and shoegaze influence, tracks like ‘Never Leave’ and ‘Sneakers’ were quintessential Egoism. Despite it being the first show for new drummer Adam, these more beat-heavy tracks helped round out the outfit’s sound, while some high-pitched electric guitar features provided an interesting sonic contrast to the tracks’ more rock and roll moments.
With ‘Wish I Could’, I was hooked. A much needed valley in a set full of peaks, this track had me feeling like I was about to lock eyes with a lover across the crowded basement of the Chippo Hotel—we’d stare at each other, unmoving, and through only our gaze communicate that we just weren’t right for each other, then smile sadly and never speak of it again. After the dreamy, introspective song had finished, Scout announced, “I hope you all learned some deeper thoughts about yourselves during that time.” Psychic.
Easily the highlight of the night, new single ‘What Are We Doing’ was received raucously by the audience. Showing a more personal, vulnerable side of the band, lyrics like “You and I, we don’t know what the fuck we’re doing with this” hit home in an explosive chorus. When combined with the duo’s classic harmonies, ‘What Are We Doing’ was performed with a perfect blend of melancholy and soft sweetness, with Olive taking the time before and after to thank everyone involved in bringing the single together.
By the end of the show, the band began to work more cohesively, letting themselves become more loose with ‘Sorry’, an “anti-gaslight anthem”. A great mix of energetic and quieter moments, closing the show with ‘Consequences’ allowed the earnestness of the duo’s lyrics and Scout’s voice to shine through, showcasing a sweet and easy rapport. While Egoism makes self-purported “headphones on the train” music, if this live show is anything to go by, the band can clearly also rally a crowd.