The Jezabels played to an adoring crowd on a freezing cold night, at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in New York.
Going to see The Jezabels is something I associate with summer. Both because I’ve only seen them at summer festivals in Australia – Falls Festival, Homebake, and Laneway Festival – and because I remember their hit “Endless Summer” cracking the Top Ten in 2010’s Hottest 100 countdown. Seeing them in winter in New York, on a night when the temperature had just dropped from 12 degrees to a scary 2, was a new experience.
The Music Hall of Williamsburg was already buzzing when I arrived and people were streaming in early to watch the opening act Surf Rock is Dead and secure a spot in the front row.
The pre-show music included “Simply the Best”, “Don’t Leave Me This Way” and “Drop the Pilot”, to give us all shot of energy and nostalgia, until the band assembled on stage to start playing new album Synthia‘s opening track “Stand and Deliver”. Singer Hayley Mary made a slow entrance as she walked down the stairs and onto the stage, to take her place in the middle. This slow, intoxicating track was the perfect way to ease us into their set.
They moved right into old favorite “Mace Spray”, quickly followed by “Long Highway” which gave the impression the band were just going through the motions, until the band built up to a huge release when Mary’s vocals hit those impossibly high notes as she repeated “Hear me roar,” to cheers from the crowd. “Endless Summer” followed and as that driving intro led into the first line, the crowd danced along and sang every word, getting louder and louder as the song went. Mary’s on-stage performance is as enjoyable as ever; watching her dance back and forth and engage with the front row added to the experience, and showed us how happy they were to be there.
“Easy to Love” was the highlight of the night, when Mary dropped her vocals so the crowd could fill in the line “You were the one who thought it was funny,” over her. The set showed off the new tracks from Synthia towards the end, with the darkly satisfying “Pleasure Drive”, the frantic “My Love is My Disease”, the snarling “If Ya Want Me” and album closer “Stamina”, before the band left the stage briefly.
When they returned to the stage for the encore, drummer Nik Kaloper was looking for a couple called John and Kelsey. No one volunteered themselves from the crowd, and when they realised the couple weren’t there, Mary said “Yeah? Well fuck off then!”
She went on to dedicate “The End” to America – as a result of the recent election, what else – and said the lyrics were just ‘basic poetry’. “‘Is this the end or a new beginning?’ I’ve written way better than that!”
The song still ended the set on a high and who knows, maybe it is the end of a life worth living in the USA. But if it does come to that, at least we have The Jezabels’ music to listen to.