Asta @ Manning Bar
“I don’t know what to say… I just want to keep playing music!” laughed Asta as she bounced around the stage mid set. Flaunting a long shimmering Alice McCall coat and a glitter star painted over one eye, the 21 year old confidently took to the stage at Manning Bar for the sixth show of her headline tour on Thursday night. The bar, housed in the University of Sydney’s grounds, was the ideal venue for Asta, matching her vibrancy, youth and knack for intimate performances. Accompanied by talented songstress/fellow friend Montaigne and Sydney outfit SUIIX, fans were treated to a show bursting at the seams with young, up and coming talent.
As people walked up the stairs and entered the bar, they were greeted by the ethereal sounds of SUIIX. Fronted by the shy and incredibly humble Sarah Jullienne, the band progressed through a tight set of songs drifting between dream pop to a sturdier psychedelic rock. By the final song, their piercing riffs had filled the room and there was a decent crowd awaiting Montaigne.
The 19-year-old Montaigne took to the stage with grace and confidence far beyond her years, as she wowed the audience with impressive vocal gymnastics. Spirits were high and drinks flowed whilst the singer made her presence known with soft, rolling vocals complimented by euphoric build-ups. There’s no doubt Montaigne shone against a backdrop of pink and purple lights, pleasing her fans and winning new ones with an engaging series of songs, including the much loved ‘I’m a Fantastic Wreck’ and a unique cover of Sia’s ‘Chandelier’.
After a seemingly quick 20-minute break, fans were eagerly awaiting the headliner and an excited chatter grew across the room. Asta burst onto the scene with a captivating stage presence, performing with ease and showcasing the best of her powerhouse vocals. Flashing strobes, funky melodies and an array of synths and pedals all contributed to a modern reinterpretation of 80’s pop – and the audience loved it. Fan favourites ‘Escape’ and ‘My Heart Is On Fire’ encouraged crowd sing-alongs, whilst a few new songs scattered throughout kept the set fresh.
Asta’s energy never faulted as she swiftly but enthusiastically worked through twelve songs, ranging from dynamic pop anthems to soulful ballads. It’s incredible to see how much the singer has grown since winning Triple J Unearthed High in 2012, a coveted Australian music competition that saw the then 18-year-old student flown to Sydney to professionally record a single. She beat 860 high school entrants (including Montaigne!) to win the coveted competition. This growth was especially evident in the performance of her current single ‘Dynamite’, arguably the most commercially appealing single of Asta’s so far. With the song reaching the Top 10 charts in Australia, and a set of stellar performances during this national tour, Asta is a rising star that’s only just getting started.