Billie Eilish @ Howler, Melbourne, Thursday February 8, 2018.
Header image by Tim Lambert.
Supporting American teenage sensation Billie Eilish on her Laneway Festival sideshow in Melbourne was enigmatic neo-soul buster Okenyo. With Flex Mami on the decks and a pair of back-up singers, the Sydney artist debuted brand new track Iso (out today) with the support of an ever-growing crowd. Evocative and smooth, Okenyo reminded me very much of The Internet frontwoman Syd, as she swaggered her way around the compact Howler stage.
After a brief intermission and the addition of the rest of the sold-out crowd, our enigmatic headliner entered and bowled straight into breakout hit Bellyache. A magnetic force in her full camouflage tracksuit, Eilish immediately slowed the set down for the softly-spoken idon’twannabeyouanymore, before bouncing back with bopping trap number &burn. The mood swing kind of summed up the 16-year-old prodigy: erratic, unpredictable, and undoubtably herself.
“Can I introduce these guys to you?” Eilish gestured towards her band. “This is Andrew [Marshall, drummer], the GOAT, and my older brother Finneas [O’Connell]. Do you mind if he plays a song?”
O’Connell – whom you may recognise from his short stint on Glee – is a talented artist in his own right; the bluesy crooner (and Eilish’s main collaborator and producer) belted out his own track New Girl, with doting younger sister watching from side of stage with pride. Adorable.
Back in the spotlight again, this time with her ukulele in tow, Eilish covered ya boy Drake’s Hotline Bling, which led into the ukulele-driven party favor and crowd favourite ocean eyes. For an artist to be so taciturn but hold the room the way she did (the audience were gobsmacked for most the set) shows just how special a talent she will be if she keeps up this momentum.
The next track was unreleased slow burner when the party’s over which, amazingly but not surprisingly, the crowd knew every word to. Not bad, considering she only debuted the song live in Auckland last week. Her angelic voice projected beautifully into the crowd, and you could’ve heard a pin drop when she hit that soaring high note. My boy concluded the set, ending with a cheeky smile and a wave in time with the final lyric: “If you want a good girl, then goodbye.”
There was no fooling this passionate crowd, who started chanting the titles of the remaining two songs from Eilish’s limited ouevre. The trio reemerged with hostage, and rounded out with the snarling COPYCAT. An incredible performance; the future is unashamedly, and without a doubt, all Billie Eilish’s.