Meg Mac delivers soulful set at Bootleg Bar

Meg Mac Bootleg 2019 mainbar

I was dying to see Meg Mac for the last few years. She was set to play Firefly Festival and a Los Angeles show in 2017 but had to cancel due to personal circumstances. So when she announced a show at the Bootleg Bar for February, I jumped at the opportunity to see her again.

The Aussie singer was one of my first Triple J Like a Version discoveries with her memorable cover of “Bridges” by BROODS. I quickly discovered her own tunes were just as soulful. Her debut EP featured a killer cover of “Grandma’s Hands” by Bill Withers. Meg Mac‘s original tunes “Known Better” and “Roll Up Your Sleeves” were instant standouts. I finally got a chance to see her at my first SXSW in 2015 and in 2016 at Hangout Fest and Governors Ball. But Wednesday at the Bootleg Bar was the first time I got to see her since she dropped her debut full-length record LowBlows in 2017.

She’s finally put out some new music since that excellent record, and we got to hear some of it at the Bootleg. Mac was accompanied by her sister Hannah as well as another bandmate on stage. Hearing their sisterly harmonies was a highlight of the set. Meg Mac straddles this line of R&B and soul, somewhere between Adele and Alicia Keys or Jorja Smith territory.

Early in the set came a favorite of mine “Never Be Me”. “I wish I could be just like that / No love, no no, I will never be, thank the lord” she sang powerfully in the song’s chorus, giving me goosebumps. There were times during the quieter songs where you could hear people ordering drinks at the bar, but the crowd stayed mostly quiet.

She prefaced the new song “Hope” by saying it was about the sad side of hope. Her banter was a bit self-deprecating, but then she’d follow it up by belting out songs with such command and power. Another standout was her excellent cover of Sly & The Family Stone’s “If You Want Me To Stay”.

She closed her set with a heavy-hitting one-two punch. “Something Tells Me” is reminiscent of early ’90s Amy Grant and is one of the new singles she put out this year. She closed things out with “Roll Up Your Sleeves”, wearing a stylish shirt that had the sleeves unbuttoned and hanging low. It was a great way to bring an emphatic end to the set. I have a feeling 2019 is going to be a really strong year for the rising talent. At one point, she mentioned that a sibling had recently moved to LA and thinks she’ll be out this way more often. We can only hope.

Words by Mark Ortega
Photos by Justin Higuchi