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Live Review: Little May @ The Zoo

© Tom Sue Yek

“We brought this song to Aaron [Dessner] and said it’s kind of shit,” laughed Little May singer Hannah Field, before launching into Chemicals – a sweet and spacious track which ruminates over a past relationship. Last Saturday, Sydney girl group rounded out by Liz Drummond and Annie Hamilton returned to Brisbane to take us on a musical journey. Field described the evening as an “emotionally-charged bushwalk”.

Stepping into The Zoo it was unclear what the evening had in store. Little May describe their sound as ‘Ghost Folk’, music with something a bit dark and unsettling rippling under the surface. For such a unique label it’s only fitting that the evening’s crowd was diverse – think flowers-in-my-hair girls, gym bros, and cool dads (that might actually be dads of the band). Supporting were two young female acts, Azura and E^ST.

© Tom Sue Yek

Little May’s set began with Cicadas, a meditative track that also opens their Aaron Dessner (The National) produced debut album ‘For The Company’. Like most Little May songs, Cicadas is a slow burner. The trio stepped onto a smoke-filled stage backed by drums and keyboard and the crowd was visibly excited. Field brings her clean and delicate vocals to the song, which gradually sets fire with swooping strings and electric guitar.

Field thanked the small but buzzed crowd for being so attentive before gently-picked guitars drifted us into Seven Hours, the next song on our musical bushwalk. Field did a jerky dance while singing in her meandering drawl, “I need you to give me back my lungs so my body can forgive me”. The crowd was transfixed swaying to the soulful three part harmonies of the mulling and progressively throbbing song.

Little May played ‘For The Company’ almost in its entirety (save for a dreamy spin on Icehouse’s Great Southern Land). Dessner’s influence on the band’s sound is clear. The songs are a lot more atmospheric, expansive, and layered. Little May also managed to capture the underlying moodiness that The National does so well. And despite the sombreness of the evening the crowd remained keyed up.

© Tom Sue Yek

Hide signified the start of our trek up what Drummond calls “Angsty Acoustic Mountain”. Again the trio started the eerie song off softly before ripping into a louder percussion-filled chorus. The stirring song about a cheating boyfriend was a fan favourite and even the gym bros in the audience sung along to all the words.

We managed to conquer the mountain when Little May returned for an encore with Boardwalks. Field congratulated the crowd for making it up saying we had emerged into “a field of baby goats”. Although some of the crowd had already left, the remainder had a solid boogie to Little May’s floaty first single.

Little May’s bushwalk was filled with consistently sweet songs with shimmery vocals, harmony-laden melodies, and swirling guitars. It made for a pleasant evening but after awhile the band’s predictable quiet-loud-quiet sound left us feeling a bit sore in the ears.

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Photos by Tom Sue Yek