Live Review

West End Girls: Mellow, Fomi, and MoZza @ The Bearded Lady

West End Girls is a monthly gig hosted by Tiny Minds Agency at The Bearded Lady in West End, highlighting femme-fronted bands and artists. This month’s show, on Thursday June 16, featured Mellow, Fomi, and MoZza. The three groups provided a mix of alt, grunge, psychedelic, and indie rock to form a night of high energy in the intimate venue of the Beardo’s back room.

Fresh off the back of their debut single release Sad Posting on the Internet, Mellow kicked off the night with their unique brand of alt rock, one which sees influences of pop punk combined with theatrical power metal. Early in their set, the five-piece group brought on guest vocalist Jade not Jane to feature in a song co-written by Jade and Mellow. Jade not Jane’s vocals blended seamlessly with Mellow lead-singer Lauren Rowes, and the performance was made all the more captivating by the clear chemistry of two artists who had collaborated on a song together. When Mellow arrived at Sad Posting on the Internet, a song released earlier that same day, the audience ate out of the palm of Rowe’s hand as she delivered a vulnerable introduction to the tune, discussing the mental health struggles and feelings of inadequacy that underlie their debut single. Rowe followed this up with a heartfelt vocal performance that inflicted the best kind of goosebumps upon myself and many of my surrounding audience members. To lighten the mood after their emotional power ballad, Mellow busted out a cover of local favourites The Veronicas track 4ever, which had the entire room screaming along! Wrapping up their set was a five minute rock epic called Monster, beginning with an engagingly quirky one-minute solo from drummer Nikolai Bray, and featuring a blisteringly hot guitar solo by Isabella Wood-de-Melo, who ventured into the audience with a wireless guitar to shred Mellow’s way to a dazzling finale.

Fomi, led by songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist Karelia Moloney, brought a dreamy indie rock sound with hints of grunge influences to The Bearded Lady as the second act of West End Girls. The song Heart Worm particularly caught my attention: its delay-saturated guitar and shimmering synths arranged into a 6/8 waltz was quick to tug at the heartstrings. Introduced by Moloney as simply “a sad song”, it certainly did its job of evoking emotion, and over time built its way towards a cathartic ending of hammering, distorted guitar and cymbal-smashing drums. Leading straight off this emotional journey, Moloney changed guitars, and during this quick changeover Fomi’s keyboardist led an impromptu bossa nova jam that the rest of the band was quick to join in on to fill the time! A particular shoutout must go to the keys player of Fomi. In an indie rock outfit a keys or synth part can often feel a little lost for purpose, but with this keys player’s ethereal pads, soft keys, jazz organ, and full piano sounds, they fit sweetly into the arrangement of each individual song. After a set filled with grunge and emotion, Fomi ended their set on the boppy track Don’t Leave, which was a breath of danceable fresh air that greatly showed off the immense range in Moloney’s songwriting abilities.

The psychedelic-soul group MoZza have been gigging around the Meanjin scene for the last three years, and the class that comes with that experience is really starting to show. With recent additions of keys and horns players to the band, MoZza is now an eight piece indie-soul super group, led by songwriter and vocalist Tiffany Davison. The early stages of their set were marked with slower, heartfelt tunes, before slowly amping up the energy as they went on. A standout track was their most recently released single Take Me By Surprise, which featured the entry of their horns players Josh O’Byrne on tenor sax and Ben Oldham on trumpet. The performance of this single led straight into a rehearsed instrumental track with a thumping disco beat, in which Davison introduced each band member one at a time, concluding with a virtuosic solo by local drumming phenomenon Abbie Chadirichi. The set continued to pick up energy from there, with a well-placed cover of Frankie Valli’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You reeling the crowd into a good, old-fashioned singalong (and making good use of their horn section while doing it!). Closing out their set was an upbeat original tune called Sweet and Sour, providing a perfect opportunity for audience members to dance their troubles away. After completely exiting the stage, MoZza were begged back for an encore by the entire back room of The Bearded Lady, and they obliged by giving us one more track to groove out to. Davison’s vocals must be specially mentioned: with her range of belting, soft and vulnerable delivery, conversational sass, shouting, and everything in between, she delivers an endlessly engaging performance. Additionally, MoZza’s formal attire on the night, with each member dressed in black and white suits, greatly added to their charming allure.

The June edition of West End Girls at The Bearded Lady provided a night of soulful, engaging, and energetic alternative rock music. The night wouldn’t have been possible without sound technician Amaya Dedes behind the desk, mixing the various ensembles with superb clarity to ensure audiences could fully enjoy the performances of each band. Mellow, Fomi, and MoZza all proved themselves to be mesmerising acts, and I’d highly recommend checking out their live shows whenever you have the chance.

- Allie Elle with photos by Dominic Grey.

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