Asta Shines at Jack Rabbit Slims

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Tasmanian indie-pop sensation Asta is touring nationally in support of her new EP Shine.
Her newest offering is a celebration of organic and joyful pop music that even the quirky diva asks you to “Dance, lose yourself, find yourself, [and] embrace yourself” to. Released last week, the first stop of her tour was here in Perth and Northbridge club Jack Rabbit Slims was set to be transformed into a glitter soaked oasis of good vibes. It would have been rude not to go.

As the lights go down for opening act Angus Dawson, he appears behind a beat pad, keyboard and laptop with electric guitar in hand, and waves of flowing synth begin to wash around the room. The bearded singer/songwriter boasts a husky croon and a knack for alluring, sparse electronica. Crackling percussion tracks and blooming bass tones meet in smart indie songwriting and his ability to blend his sounds live makes for an impressive show.

Angus Dawson belongs to the new wave of solo live electronic acts, mixing sample-heavy backing tracks with live guitar and vocals. Despite his ability to operate these several instruments in each song, it was evident some of the audience wanted a more involved performance in lieu of the live setting. With that being said, it was safe to say the talented producer made up for it with a good set of catchy songs. Polished, smart and listenable, Angus Dawson was fitting opener for a top quality night of Aussie music.

Taking to the stage as main support for the night, young duo Phocal may be Perth’s newest rising live electronic talent, using live percussion, melody and vocals over backing tracks. Vocalist Phoebe Gunson has a commanding charisma and a nimble voice, rocking and swaying as if carrying the music on her shoulders, only to bump it all off with a heavy footed R’n’B swagger. The other half of Phocal is Perth producer Jcal, his experience as a live drummer adds much needed texture to their sound, slipping playfully syncopated fills into sometimes sleepy Trap-infused tracks with drumsticks and a beat pad. Phocal bring the crowd a few steps closer with plenty of treats from their 2015 EP Moods and commendable covers of Kid Cudi’s ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ and Flight Facilities’ ‘Crave You’. The duo keep consistent energy as they burn through songs, Gunson reaching into the swelling audience, bringing them up to the barrier. Seasoned performers despite their tender years, Phocal is sure to be a name you will here plenty more of over the next few years.

There is an astonishing air of youthful joy Asta gives the audience that you can even feel from her first few steps onstage. Emerging in sparkling gold silk flares and an equally sparkly gold Disco shirt, it was evident Asta was ready to celebrate. The bubbly 23 year old launches into her trademark brand of thumping pop numbers centered around her soaring vocal talent and love of dancing. The singer shakes and weaves to the beat of promising new tracks from Shine like the powerful ‘Saturday Night’ along with some older favourites, like the unsettled and intriguing ‘I Need Answers’. A high point is a mid-set appearance of her breakthrough single ‘My Heart Is On Fire’ – the same song that won her the Triple J High award in 2012 and kick-started her career at just 17.

The gleamingly tight four piece live band delivered relentlessly groovy flavours from drums, bass, guitars and keyboards, with every musician seemingly playing another instrument with any spare hand. Meanwhile Asta proved capable of traversing her musical roots, branching out into her folk roots with the acoustic ‘Wild Emotion’, then quickly flexing back into a streamlined club banger version of ‘Dynamite’. Asta’s music is all about feeling good, and that good feeling was being thrown around the room until she bowed and delightedly skipped off stage. Later on, drawn back onstage by roars of a now ecstatic audience, Asta ended her heartening set with an unexpectedly sweet acoustic cover of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’.

Shine glitters with promise and unflinching joy, just as Asta’s live show does. The Hobart born songstress delivered a no-nonsense blast of positive energy to start her national tour with a bang, and there’s no doubt the sparkling young woman has nowhere to go but up. Go pick up a copy of Shine on all major platforms now until Asta drops by to sprinkle some fairy dust on us again.