It’s hard out there for a musician, from getting fractions of a penny on streaming to COVID shutting down touring for a year or two. There’s also how hard it is to break through, with everything at everybody’s fingertips. That’s why it was so great when Melbourne’s Alex Lahey had such an incredible debut in 2017’s I Love You Like a Brother (QRO review), and has managed to keep it up with 2019’s The Best of Luck Club (QRO review) and this year’s The Answer Is Always Yes (QRO review). And she & her band braved the latest roadblock, the Canadian wildfires making New York City look & smell like a “hellscape,” to rock Brooklyn’s Baby’s All Right (QRO venue review) on Wednesday, June 7th.
Touring behind Yes, the set was naturally loaded with songs from the new album, particularly at the start. “On the Way Down” opened up the night with a bang, the heart-rending title track second-to-last (Lahey noting that you don’t have to always say yes, but it’s like the improv, “Yes, and” – and was written stoned in the back of an Uber). But of note were too early, rarely played tracks, “Wes Anderson” and “You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me”, from 2016’s B-Grade University EP. And yes, there were her breakthrough Brother singles, “Every Day’s the Weekend” (before she announced they were skipping the ‘walk off stage and walk back on for the encore’, because it’d just be a lame wait in the red-roped side, “adult peekaboo”) and the evening’s closer, “I Haven’t Been Taking Care of Myself”.
But extra-special mention has to be made of Lahey noting that no Americans know the Australian National Anthem, and that’s fine because it “isn’t very good” – and neither is America’s, or most country’s (“Maybe they’re all bad?”). So, she proposed her own Ozzie national anthem – “Torn”, made famous by her country’s Natalie Imbruglia (though, as Lahey noted, was actually written & originally done by a non-Australian, America’s Ednaswap). Not done ironically, but rocked out like she probably sang when she was a kid.
[Note: your correspondent successfully guessed that the ‘new Australian National Anthem’ was going to be “Torn”, because he’s all out of faith, this is how he feels…]
It was an enthusiastic night all around, from the crowd to Lahey to her band, bassist Genna Projansky, guitarist Matthew Jennings, and “recently discharged from Sunshine Hospital in Melbourne, Australia” drummer Jess Elwood (because of course Lahey would introduce her band, right before training the crowd to do the “do-dah-dah” chorus for “Myself”). Even under red skies, going out to see Alex Lahey? The answer is always yes.