Spotted: Asta rocks Howler Bar in denim onesie. The little dynamo won my heart.
I usually make my way down to Howler for the odd show here and there, and the space really commands an artist to fill it out. And I don’t just mean in numbers either, The acoustics installed works best with a strong vocalist, the decore in the band room begs for a contemporary vibe, and the wide open space requires a lot of dancing. Thus there have been many a show there where I have been a little underwhelmed with the artist’s attempt to command this space – even if It was an artist I was looking forward to seeing.
I had my concerns that Asta wasn’t going to have high enough energy on stage, but boy did she prove my preconceptions false.
Set the scene. She came out in a denim onesie and red scarf. Literally. All she needed was some sweet brown suede cowboy boots and it would have been homage to Madonna’s Ray of Light music video. However, the 21-year-old starlet held her own.
It did somewhat surprise me that the set started with a string of acoustic tracks. Given her new direction, I thought for sure she would lay down 80’s/electronic mixes early – as it turned out later, she was only building anticipation. Plus, the positive thing about starting out with unplugged options was she got to showcase that amazing tone in her voice, and the seemingly effortless trills. A trill isn’t easy, and anyone that makes it look easy, is 1) talented and 2) annoying.
One criticism I did have early, was there was no introduction to song titles. I understand the set was seamless, and each track felt like an extension of the predecessor. However, not every track I recognized – thus I would liked to have known which track was which, even just for the purpose of this review.
But the crowd was waiting. I think to them, the first half of the set was a little static. I assume this in how I read the room’s energy. Meaning the crowd were a little lifeless, perhaps waiting for the further electronic, high tempo tracks. Which is fair, the night was the single launch of new banger ‘Dynamite’ so a couple of the tracks she did perform could be arguably confused in ‘aesthetic.’ Even to ‘My Heart is on Fire,’ which she performed with gusto and amazing technique, the crowd didn’t seemed to be vibing it. I was – her energy was infecting my energy (and a few red wines later) I had a space on the floor dedicated to my dance moves. With or without Allday.
However, then came the newer tracks, and suddenly the drummer kicked it into overdrive and the 3-piece band all picked up in his stride. It’s pretty spectacular to see how comfortable this tiny 21 year old is in these hard 80’s pop synth combinations, utilising strong electronic vocal effects. Considering she started on the Triple J track with just her and her guitar, it’s rather comforting to see how much Asta has matured as an artist in this short time. She was jumping all over stage, interacting with the crowd, her hair had a lot of character flipping around with her dance moves. There was a audience member that jumped on stage, and she proceeded to dance around with him like it was part of the plan – yet dismissing him with “that’s enough of you.” Even Asta knows there’s always limitations on entertainment value. By time she played a new track called ‘Stay Cool,’ the audience was whipping around, and dancing with each other like the first set was a different act all together.
For me, the highlight of the night was Asta had the courage, and dexterity, to start squat dropping on stage. I’m not talking Jane Fonda aerobics either, I’m talking Snoop Dogg, dropping it like it’s hot, it’s the remix to ignition and she’s fresh out the kitchen – while somehow in between all of that fire, she managed to maintain a high quality of vocals. I tell you, this girl is gonna’ be big.
She finished on a high with ‘Dynamite’. Naturally she finished with this because it was indeed the single launch, but it’s also the most effervescent of her tracks – you can’t help but dance. I knew that, the audience knew that, she knew that. That’s why everyone was there. With Asta’s direction, everyone put their hands up. and she rapped herself Allday’s popular verse. Literally, at this point – she doesn’t need him. She should re record ‘Dynamite’ with a rap verse done by her and call herself Lil’ Asta. I’m sold on her, and If wasn’t before, she’s definitely jumped to the top of my books in ‘Ones to watch.’ I will be definitely seeing her live again – that’s for darn sure.