REVIEW: austra live at the haunt//oh my goth

Do we need a new Knife? YES. Toronto’s spookiest band, Austra, kindly filled the weirdo-music gap left by The Knife/Fever Ray with their debut album FEEL IT BREAK earlier this year. Reminiscent of Bjork, Kate Bush, Enya, Bat for Lashes and Depeche Mode they cast a shadow all of their own.

The Knife were a bit lifechanging and made me wish all my favourite records could be remixed and overlaid with some steel drum sounds but were — gasp – boring live, playing behind screens and masks, always bowing out of the spotlight. Now Austra might be pagan-dabbling electro-goths but they’re definitely not shy and all the LP’s drama thundered out on stage when they played the Haunt on Friday. Firstly frontlady Katie Stelmanis‘ swirly dancing is spellbinding (so much so that I felt myself awkwardly attempting to mirror her and having to stop before someone noticed), her arms conjuring up all manner of shapes in the dark. These moves too are a kind of summoning up of her incredible, operatic (note: classically trained) voice which pulsates, trembles and alarms. That was then complemented by artistically writhing twin diminutive-goth backing singers Romy and Suri of Canadian duo Tasseomancy. Together they became dark/light/dark witches at the front of the stage flanked by icy malemodelman keyboarder Ryan, oversized-spectacled drummer Maya and XX-ish bassplayer Dorian.

Austra might look and sound like a hipster-goth fantasy that you can’t sing along with (look at them!) and they do take themselves very very seriously but they are seriously good. I’ve been longing for a proper music/fashion goth comeback to take hold and Austra should be its leaders.They’re back in the UK in September.

More goth: listen to BBC Radio 4 Thinking Allowed on what happens when goths grow up last month.

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