I arrived at Howler just after support act Yuma X began, so I stood at the back while the two-piece performed a solid set of original songs and their own version of Chet Faker’s ‘The Trouble With Us’ to a half-filled room. To those of us at the back, it was clear we were waiting for one thing—the PC music headliners. Soon after Yuma X left the stage, people began pouring into the band room.
By 10.25 the room was packed with people who looked like they had come from somewhere deep in tumblr and all the cool kids that you’d recognised from Instagram, as well as the regular Melbourne crowd. Everyone milled around and stood with anticipation as roadies cleared the stage for SOPHIE. When the lights went down and then back up again it was time for conceptual pop label PC Music heavyweights SOPHIE and QT to launch their brand of hyper-commercialised concept pop/art performance onto the Melbourne crowd.
SOPHIE began the show wrapped in a patent leather biker jacket and never looking up from the decks for more than a second. While strobes and lights flashed, separating the audience from the stage. QT then tagged in over halfway through to perform a few songs, each artist successfully playing their role of the mysterious performer. Despite their intriguing mix of style and aesthetic the performance lacked any significant connection to the performer. This could be an artistic statement, part of the PC music brand or maybe just a symptom of their style of music. That said the energy and enthusiasm coming from the audience was more than enough, especially during hits like ‘Lemonade’ and ‘msmsmsm’ which got the crowd working up a serious sweat.
SOPHIE and QT are both acts who I enjoy listening to but until seeing them I couldn’t understand how it translated live, so it was intriguing to see something that exists entirely in a digital realm come to life in a live show. Essentially it means performing in costume, miming, and DJing while strobes, light beams, and smoke machines go off around you. Which sounds like it could be a terrible experience, but when you’re surrounded by an enthusiastic crowd and the volume of a real PA it elevates the performance beyond a simple show into a shared experience with the other punters around you. To the point that strangeness of knowing that the musical aspect of the performance is essentially pre-recorded is almost removed by the end and all you want to do is dance.
After QT performed about three tracks, SOPHIE returned to finish us off, ending the show abruptly by walking straight off stage. Only to return with QT to perform her hit ‘Hey QT’, to the loud cheers of the sweaty crowd topping off a strange and exciting evening with the PC music artists.