Review and photography by Liam Brown
I’m not gonna lie, walking into Meow last night I truly did not know what to expect. Georgia Lines is an artist I hadn’t heard of until the show was announced, but after listening to her music I was quite ready to sing and dance my heart out to her entire discography.
There was a slow dribble in the form of a crowd coming through the doors as Pōneke based soul/jazz master, Arjuna Oakes, opened the night (without his band) with an amazingly chill, yet funky set. His music almost served as an entrance soundtrack to anyone who was entering the venue. Despite the majority of the music being quite slow, he kept this small, still seated in the corners of the venue crowd engaged like none other. “Pick your poison for me / We’re gonna watch the world burn” are lyrics that are forever going to be engrained in my head. It’s astounding to me how such amazing vocals fit into such a small person, but if there’s one thing to take away from Arjuna Oakes solo set, it’s that the man has pipes. Definitely one to keep an eye on!
After a good fifteen-minute changeover, a bigger crowd formed just in time for Tāmaki-Makaurau based retro-pop duo LAIIKA, consisting of Heidi Simpson and Grace Moller. The duo lit up the room with synths galore and a stage presence that could not be replicated by anyone no matter how hard they tried. During the set, Grace tells the crowd that the duo performed at Meow two years ago with The Beths when they were 17, when they couldn’t even buy a drink from the bar. She laughs and tells them how good it was to be back (and be able to legally drink). With only two singles released, the crowd looked eager to see what else the duo had up their sleeves.
Accompanied by their band (Martin on guitar, Isaac on bass, and Josh on drums), LAIIKA put on a completely electrifying performance. After seeing the duo multiple times, I can confidently say that this is the best I’ve ever seen them perform. Heidi and Grace have a potential to succeed that is like no other, purely because they know exactly what they want. Girl bosses in their own rite, if you will. Songs such as Power SCREAM empowerment.
Highlights of the set include the entirety of the song Robot Girl, where the two effortlessly, and I mean effortlessly, sang like robots and took turns… being a robot in musical form by splitting up a verse into sections and singing one at a time in the most sensational monotoned voice ever. Also, their overall stage presence is completely unmatched. Heidi and Grace have a chemistry like no other not only between each other, but between their bandmates that made the performance that much more engaging. Closing out their set with Y2K banger, Anyway You Want It, and pop banger Crush, LAIIKA left the crowd with smiles on their faces and an eagerness for more music.
Accompanied by drummer Mack and guitarist Nathan, Georgia Lines took the now smaller, more intimate crowd by complete surprise when she simply walked on, sat down at her keyboard and started playing. Make no mistake, Georgia Lines has one of the most mesmerizing voices in New Zealand Music. By the end of her first song Falling, not only had she made everyone stand up and come onto the floor, but she had caught the attention of the entire crowd and held onto it for the entire set.
One thing I didn’t expect is for Georgia to be a double threat. Not only is she a performer, but she’s also a comedian! All jokes aside (pun intended), Georgia had the funniest little anecdotes in between songs that she felt needed explaining before she told them. However, what happens at a Georgia Lines show stays at a Georgia Lines show, and those stories will not be disclosed unless you hear them for yourself.
When she’s on stage, Georgia is extremely relaxed. She’s almost too chill – not that it’s a bad thing, it actually made the show feel a lot more intimate than I was expecting. Despite there being around 50-60 people in the room, it felt like she was only talking to a select group of us. On the other hand, she’s extremely camp. Georgia Lines is now a triple threat: Singer, comedian and dancer. “I’m getting puffed with all my weird dance moves! I don’t know what I’m actually doing with my body” she says at the end of Same Things. She impresses the crowd with dance moves from her upcoming music video for No One Knows, whereby she tells the crowd beforehand that the whole video is actually completely choreographed, and she had to have proper dance rehearsals to get the choreography down perfectly.
The highlight of Georgia’s set was the currently unfinished song Breaking Ups Easy, where she taught the crowd the chorus, and asked for them to sing the song with her. After a test run whereby, she said “You’re at about 20% right now… I think you can do better”, the small crowd belted the lyrics at the top of their lungs and left Georgia smiling from ear to ear while she sang a seemingly sad song about the pain of breakups. Contradiction at its finest.
Closing her set with a cover of Say A Little Prayer by Aretha Franklin, and My Love, a song adapted from a story about how she followed her ex-boyfriend turned husband of one year down the road in her car, Georgia Lines had left me speechless. I went into this show not knowing what to expect, with absolutely no expectations and left with memories from a gig I will not be forgetting any time soon. Georgia Lines is a force to be reckoned with in the New Zealand music industry.