Carla Geneve @ Mojo’s Bar
Saturday, August 8, 2020
Carla Geneve has become something of the poster girl of Perth local music scene. In only four short years her combination of honest, conversational lyricism, trebly distorted guitars and raw energy has made her a mainstay of local music venues and beyond. Geneve has sold out national tours across the country, played in the USA, and supported some of the most cherished names in alternative music; Kurt Vile and Cat Power among them.
Straight off the back of winning WAM Song of the Year for the second year running, it was exciting to see her return to play her first live headline show in Perth since the pandemic. Performing to a sold out Mojos crowd, Carla and her band opened with WAM winner 2001 to set in swing a swift but strong set that took us on a journey through her development as a songwriter and performer.
Highlights from the performance included most recent single Don’t Wanna be Your Lover, an aptly named song about the difficulties and confusion of break-up, and Empty Stomach, a sinewy, loud-quiet rock ballad (and the opening track off her latest, self-titled EP). Geneve’s live performance of the song exuded a heavier raw energy that isn’t as present on her recorded music. It was good. The second half of the set saw the opening enthusiasm rolled back a little as the band stripped down to a more laid-back and acoustic set-up. Performing songs off the recent EP, including some unreleased material, it was at times easy to find each track blending and blurring into the next.
Geneve is best when her performance lurches between intimate storytelling lyrics which make us lean in and listen before periodically exploding outwards into an onslaught of ferocious guitar-driven noise. It is a musical dynamic that keeps you on your toes and enthrals you entirely, but it wasn’t quite there in the second half of her show on Saturday. Nonetheless, the fact that there were several individuals in the crowd who were able to shout back every. single. word to every song in the set showed that she has at least been able to secure one thing any upcoming band wants most – a dedicated troupe of loyal, merch-laden, die-hard superfans.
One final standout of the night was a cover of Julia Jacklin’s Good Guy. It was a personal, heartfelt performance which demanded back most of any previously lost attention. The band concluded the show with a thanks and Greg’s Discount Chemist. The song is the most pop-oriented and accessible in their catalogue and was a strong way to end the night. Greg’s Discount Chemist shows that Geneve is just as capable a pop songwriter as she is a lyrical poet. While she nonetheless retains a grittier personal attitude to writing than perhaps sanitised commercial success might allow for (for now at least), Saturday night for the most part proved that Carla Geneve is a fantastically unique and special musical artist who is worthy of being considered amongst Perth’s best.
Photos by Annie Harvey