REVIEW: ROMANIE ‘FAKE FRIENDS’ SINGLE LAUNCH @ ABBOTSFORD CONVENT (11/07/21)

Romanie’s Fake Friends single launch was atypical in many ways. It took place in a convent on a Sunday afternoon, with the artists and audience members being fuelled by curry puff magic and a display of ceramic genitalia being presented along with other artwork upon arrival. That being said, the emphasis on friendship and identity was at the forefront of everyone’s minds with a thoughtfulness behind the line-up being clear and appreciated.

The line-up consisted of five artists delivering short and sweet sets proceeding the delightful Romanie. While such an abundant group could have been overwhelming, the overlap of musicians across and within the bands allowed the audience to familiarise themselves with the artists further, while also providing a continuity across the sets that is not often present.

Megan Kennedy got the music going with Bares following shortly after and while identity was a strong theme throughout the evening, a lack thereof was unfortunately prevalent for these two artists. Ability and potential were certainly right there however artistry appeared to be just out of reach during their sets. Of course, the shorter set must be taken into consideration, however it was a shame that the audience wasn’t able to truly grasp a sense of these artists’ identities even during the few songs they each performed.

Jazure, accompanied by Butternut Sweetheart, was a lovely transition into the later section of the evening. Her first song was tinged with a slight reminiscence of Alanis Morissette in the Jagged Little Pill era and I needed little convincing from that point on. Butternut Sweetheart’s accompaniment also provided a richness and warmth that further insulated the relatively stripped back set. 

Now. Let it be known that Jade Alice is a real-life Disney princess. Singing about a childhood crush on a Lost Boy that will never grow up as well as cake and frosting amongst other things, the audience was enveloped in a nostalgic, dream-like, silkiness. This was only reinforced by the harmonies and instrumental accompaniment provided by her sister, Nicola. The bonus of the familial connection was not only the undeniable bond between the pair, but also seamless harmonies that wove together beautifully. Name a more iconic duo, I’ll be listening to Jade Alice in the meantime.

Ahead of Romanie’s set, Seb Szabo kicked off with his full band and brought all the summery, beachy vibes and plonked them in a convent in the middle of winter – there were no complaints. The chemistry between band members was undeniable and the smiles with which they played each song allowed for a joyfulness to disperse throughout the space. Szabo and his band have certainly found a sweet spot with their artistry – we just hope they keep mining for more gold.

As Romanie took the stage with her band, the audience were met with many familiar faces – Jazura on keys and Butternut Sweetheart on drums. The re-acquaintance between the audience and musicians and the musicians themselves not only tied the whole evening together, but also highlighted Romanie’s emphasis on friendship. This theme was also strengthened by Children of the Light being dedicated to friendship and each person in the room knowing how true that dedication was for Romanie as a person and an artist. She truly is an angel sent from Belgian heaven! Additionally, Romanie’s willingness to explore a myriad of themes within her writing allowed each song to stand alone and provided the audience with something new to sink their teeth into. Whether the song revolved around Anthony Hopkins or the death of a friend, the audience was entranced.

It may not have been the most conventional single launch, however the positive emphasis on friendship, identity and community left a lasting impression on the audience and that is a true testament to Romanie’s grounding presence and artistry.

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WRITTEN BY MELI SZABO

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