Austra made their Cork bow last night when they took to the stage in Cyprus Avenue. For any of those in Galway (where Austra play tonight in Róisín Dubh) who have been sitting on the fence as regards whether they should fork out the cash to see the Canadians the recommendation from this side of the country is to get themselves a ticket quickly as I have a feeling this band will not be playing smaller venues for too long.
Toronto trio Austra announced themselves on the world music stage earlier this year with the release of their debut album, Feel It Break, which is destined to join many of the Best of 2011 lists come December and January. The classically-trained Katie Stelmanis, front-woman and lead vocalist of the group, is joined by drummer Maya Postepski and bass player Dorian Wolf with the threesome blending pop, electronics and opera into a very danceable output with lead single "Lose It" appearing regularly on the airwaves and various blogger playlists.
Plenty has been written about Stelmanis' "gargantuan" voice but the face of Austra has no problems sharing the limelight which can be seen with the addition of two other vocalists, who flank the singer throughout the show, to the touring team (accompanied by a synth/keyboard player). The backing singers add a lot more than just "Oohs" and "Ahs" (which I may say now in hindsight seems quite essential to the show) with all three swaying back and forth and side-to-side in a shaman-like trance resulting in a mesmeric live performance. I must add that I was a little wary that single "Lose It" might be the be all and end all of the show but it demonstrates the young bands confidence in their live show that they can crank out "the big one" three songs into the set. I can delightfully report that this confidence is well justified as not only did the energy or pace of the show not decline but rather intensified as the band kicked into "Beat And The Pulse", "Hate Crime", "The Choke" and pretty much every other track off the album.
An encore has pretty much come to be expected these days but a second encore (which saw a new song introduced) was demanded by the Cyprus Avenue crowd with Stelmanis leaving the stage the third time with a "goodbye", "thanks" and "we don't have any more". I would not be surprised to see Austra added to the Electric Picnic bill come September, blow the roof off of a small tent and go through the stratosphere. For selfish reasons I half hope this does not happen as I would love the chance to see the band in a venue such as Cyprus Avenue again at least one more time. Somehow I doubt this will happen...