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CARLA GENEVE @ The Aardvark gets 8/10

Carla Geneve @ The Aardvark
w/ The Psychotic Reactions, Siobhan Cotchin
Friday, July 28, 2018


Carla Geneve is on the rise.

After taking her Listening single tour across the east coast of Australia (while also supporting American indie darlings Lord Huron), Carla returned to Fremantle to complete her tour at The Aardvark, formerly known as The Odd Fellow.

The sold-out evening was an opportunity for frontwomen wielding electric guitars to shine. It was also a testament to young people—if the acts are good, they’ll come out in throngs to support local music.

I commend Carla for sharing the stage on her final night with fellow female performers. It was great to see talented young women command the stage and to be supported by equally talented male backup players.

Admittedly, this was also an evening of ‘age appropriate’ music; songs that mostly articulate the debilitating side of love and relationships in your late teens.

Siobhan Cotchin

Siobhan Cotchin opened up the gig with a solo set steeped in sensitive songs about communication. Each song expressed Siobhan’s own difficulty with expressing her feelings, especially when romance becomes troublesome. At times, it sounds like Siobhan is tired of her partner’s excuses. This is a personal monologue made public; it poses the questions of how you break away when love dies, and how you move forward. The performance is personal, and it’s great to see Siobhan let us watch while she navigates her own vulnerability.  

The Psychotic Reactions

The Psychotic Reactions transitions the evening from solo set to full band. This group is good. Scruffy-haired guitarist and lead vocalist Hannah Smillie takes charge of the young crowd who are all bopping and toe-tapping through groovy, warm guitar tones. Although they are inspired by the garage-rock sounds of the 60s, the group is really a step back in time to the 90s. The Psychotic Reactions offer a generous window into a time when pen and paper ruled well before the glow of smartphone screens and SoundCloud snap releases.   

Carla Geneve

The basement venue is now packed and the crowd cheers Carla Geneve onto the stage for her performance. Carla exudes attitude and I love that she is incredibly animated. She can belt, she can whisper, and she’s certainly comfortable leading her band through the set. She shines through crowd favourites like Greg’s Discount Chemist and Listening (the tour’s namesake). Although her songs look inward, her performance is all about pushing these thoughts and reflections outward to an unidentifiable subject (my assumption is that she’s talking to lovers past and present).

Carla Geneve

To me, Carla embodies the wide open door of guitar driven female singer-songwriters that have been popularised again in the age of Courtney Barnett, and more recently, Stella Donnelly. She’s melded both of their styles—Carla flirts between soaring, beautiful vocals and the monotone talk-sing style of vocal delivery that’s become common among Australian guitar bands. I’m eager to see how she develops sonically into her style and to standout from what I imagine will be a very crowded playing field.

Carla Geneve

As all of these artists develop and mature, I’m aching to hear how the substance of their music will transform. I’m hopeful that each performer will dig deeper into their perspectives and environments beyond the trials and tribulations of social life. What else does Carla see when she travels the country performing to slabs of new fans? What’s it like coming of age in a fast-transforming Australia? What message do all of these women want to pass down to the next generation of singer-songwriters who are influenced by their sounds?

I’m excited to see how Carla, Siobhan, and The Psychotic Reactions communicate the world outside their window next.


Photos by Zev Weinstein

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