Summer is on the horizon and FIGFest is officially back at the FIGat7th Plaza in downtown LA. With live acts performing every Friday in June, the free music series opened June 1 with LA-based disco duo Poolside and Aussie electro-pop artist Mallrat. As the sun set over the horizon and the skyscrapers towered over the plaza, an energized crowd packed in for a breezy evening of dancing, drinks, and dreamy tunes.
Mallrat, also known as Grace Shaw, is a 19-year-old girl from Brisbane, Australia who mixes hip hop dance beats with fun pop vocals. Her ease on-stage, sweet demeanor, and proclamation that she’s an “old soul and a Libra” feel reminiscent of early Lorde in all the best ways. Completely incidental to performing at the Plaza, Mallrat sang songs about hating the mall, the relief of being uninvited from parties, and how everyone wears the same sunglasses. It’s very earnest, danceable, and perfect for both the radio and an outdoor evening in the city.
Standout moments include the folksy and whimsical “Better” and space age-y “UFO,” tracks off her newest EP In The Sky. With a voice that vaguely recalls Lana Del Rey and simplistic but poignant lyrics in the vein of the Moldy Peaches, Mallrat is effortless fun sure to delight any crowd.
Keeping the dreamy pop theme of the evening alive, Poolside took the stage before an audience ready to dance. Fronted by guitarist Jeffrey Paradise and bassist Filip Nikolic, the self-proclaimed “daytime disco” duo combined synth-pop with beachy bongos and the occasional saxophone in a way that shouldn’t have worked — but totally did. The pair were backed by several members of post-punk godfathers The Rapture, traded off vocals, and lyrically painted soft southern California scenes with ease despite the performance being only their fifth in five years.
Fans got to watch the setting sun turn the Friday sky purple as the band began “California Sunset,” the most fitting song of the evening. Those hovering by the bar and lounging on the nearby patch of grass couldn’t help but join the crowd for “Feel Alright,” the catchiest track off last year’s record Heat. Jeffrey expressed his gratitude and amazement toward the audience’s energy more than once, so it’s safe to say the first night of FIGFest was a success. By the time Poolside closed with the surprisingly funky and sweet “Take Me Home,” no one was ready for the night to end.
Surrounded by twinkle lights and such a positive and chill atmosphere, the first Friday of FIGFest was the perfect way to start the weekend. With friends, drinks, and great music around, what else could anyone ask for?
Words and photos by Kat Manos (Instagram)