Tash Sultana with Jesse Roper at Malkin Bowl, 5/24/18
Melbourne, Australia’s Tash Sultana has been selling out venues around the world since making a name for herself busking in her hometown. She recording her soul-fueled music in her bedroom, posting to YouTube. Thursday night’s performance at Stanley Park’s Malkin Bowl sold out in just four days and with the help of local singer-songwriter Jesse Roper, the “one-woman band” kicked off Vancouver’s outdoor concert season with a magical presentation.
Starting the night with “Cherry” from his recently released album Access to Infinity (recorded at The Warehouse in Vancouver), a solo Roper wasted little time showing off both his prodigious guitar chops and incredible vocal gifts. While Roper’s stand-out guitar licks were slightly buried in the mix during his opening gig for Big Wreck at the Commodore Ballroom in March, the Metchosin, BC native was unchained and unplugged for his last-minute opening slot Thursday.
When Bob Marley’s “Is This Love” (Sultana’s song of choice before taking the stage) hit the speakers, whatever collective or individual heaviness carried by the crowd from the work week was visibly lifted. Appearing on stage on top of a small riser no bigger than the musician’s bedroom Down Under, Sultana transformed her large platform into an intimate setting before striking her first chord. With two simple strings of light adorning the stage Sultana’s set-dec mirrors the modesty the 23-year-old brings to her music. She began the night with “Big Smoke Pt.2″ as the appreciative crowd erupted in joyous applause.
The young superstar was non-stop smiles throughout the show. The Malkin Bowl was not a scene for discrimination, bigotry, or closed-mindedness Thursday as Sultana set forth the rules for the evening after the night’s second track “Synergy.”
“If you are not within’ the guidelines of this, you can fuck off and you are not getting a refund,” said Sultana. “Rule number one, if you have come to this gig tonight and you are homophobic you can fuck-off outta here, man. We deal with enough shit, get the fuck out.”
The psychedelic rocker unapologetically apologized for swearing, saying that’s just how Australians are born.
“Secondly, if you are a racist … well … if you are one of those people that are transphobic and you try to give people like us a hard time, you can fuck-off. Forever. Let’s make the world a little easier.”
Sultana’s last rule was more tongue-in-cheek than her other more steadfast decrees. She mixed in some laughter.
“And fuck all you girls that look like me. Nice work. Hat sales have gone right up around the world.”
All of this banter, both serious and joking, were done with an undercurrent of appreciation for fans and their showing up.
Sultana’s lengthy songs cascaded throughout Stanley Park in what was a picture-perfect evening. Though even in the studio her songs are quite often longer than the standard five minutes, the Notion artist vibes each song for a much longer duration live. Moreover, while each live track pushes 10 or more minutes in length, there is never a glint of ego emanating from the stage nor a glimmer of impatience from the loving audience.
Prior to “Harvest Love,” Sultana opened up to the Malkin Bowl. Having mentioned her personal struggles in the past, Sultana opened up in more detail to the crowd.
“I am sure that a lot of you have been cursed with the old mental illness stigma that goes around. Yeah, that old shit. I am one of those people that deals with that.”
The young artist continued, “I did too many hallucinogenic drugs when I was younger. I have been pretty much picking the pieces of my brain up over the last couple years. I had an episode of psychosis right before this tour and it is pretty scary when I get like that.”
Vocalizing what many people with an unbalanced mind will often think but rarely say, Sultana provided some much-needed advice to those fortunate enough to not have to cope will a similar affliction.
“People say, ‘Oh, you’ll get over it. It will just go away’. But it’s like, bro the fucking pain that I feel right now … the weight that I feel is insane. I know that I am sick but don’t say that to me, it is hard as fuck.”
Sultana spoke directly to the fans in the crowd who can empathize with the singer’s plight.
“What I have realized is that it [mental illness] is a collection of bad things and can be a monster, but it does not contribute to my whole entire life … Just be patient, and you will get there.”
Sultana closed her profound thoughts for the evening the same way she began and subsequently ended the show for the night, with a gesture of love.
“Give yourself some love here and there, cause that’s all right.”
Tash Sultana Setlist
Big Smoke Pt2
Murder to the Mind
More Than I Should Have