One of the best things about LA – particularly its vibrant music scene – is how on top of things people are. I’ve never gotten to a point where I felt truly ahead of the curve, and it was a point made very clear Tuesday night at The Echo, where Aussie one-woman show Tash Sultana played a super sold-out gig.
I had some issues at the door (the usual – my name not being on the list when it should be, then having to convince the door guy with my e-mails that I’m supposed to be there.) But I got into The Echo with enough time to spare to grab a beer and grab a spot at the back of the tightly-packed room.
Let me admit first that I was super late to the Tash Sultana bandwagon, but after seeing her perform Tuesday night, I am firmly strapped in. It was about two weeks ago that I caught her cover of MGMT’s “Electric Feel” on Triple J’s Like a Version, which led me to her own original tunes. Her show at The Echo quickly became circled on my calendar, and clearly it was the same for everyone in the venue.
When the 21-year-old (holy shit, just 21!!!) took the stage, people lost their minds. The amount of screaming girls would have you thinking it was Bieber or T-Swift taking the stage.
Sultana riffed on her guitar, laying down some rhythm with her looping pedals that she would then solo over. Twenty minutes into the show, she’d played one song, but it was the most majestic opening song of a show I’d seen in quite some time. She started the night with a backwards baseball cap that was tossed to the floor via a headbang during one especially immaculate guitar solo.
The crowd couldn’t contain themselves, shouting words of adulation along with guttural screams, to which Sultana was clearly taken back by. I myself could only muster a “Holy fuck” after one particularly gripping song. A few songs in, a crowd member was relentless in asking for the song “Notion,” to which Sultana responded, “You ever been to a gig before, mate? We are just warming our hands up right now,” Sultana said of her set to that point. Tash Sultana’s warming up is what other musicians would be lucky to pull off on their best nights.
One of my favorite songs of the night was “Harvest Love,” a song that didn’t come from her debut EP Notion (which was just released in America earlier this month). It’s a song that evoked some of the same emotions I get when listening to Julien Baker – the closing lines “But you keep on rolling/Like a rolling stone/And you’ll fight until the finish line/Carries you home” giving me goosebumps.
One question I have after watching Tash Sultana perform: Is there anything she can’t do? She plays guitar, she beatboxes, then later pulled out a trumpet and even a fucking PAN FLUTE during her set. I’ve rarely seen anyone with a proficiency in so many instruments, it’s like she’s some sort of musical wizard. That’s not to dismiss the fact that of all her talents, her powerful vocals remains her best strength. Her wild and untamed voice can be raspy at times, but also wonderfully saccharine.
Around 11 pm, Sultana said she had time for two more songs, which had the crowd sighing until it became apparent each song was at least 10 minutes long. “Jungle” had the crowd rocking back and forth, easily the most recognized track by those in attendance.
At the end of the night I was still trying to figure out what I had just bore witness to. After being one night of sleep removed, it’s safe to say it’s one of the best shows I’ve seen in 2017 so far and that it’ll be hard to knock off that perch anytime soon.
The good news for LA fans is that Tash Sultana is playing the Fonda Theatre on Friday, October 20 and tickets are only $22.00. I expect everybody who was at The Echo on Tuesday to snatch up tickets, so I recommend buying now.