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For such a small frame, Sky Ferreira has an almighty presence on stage. Walking onto the stage with dark sunglasses, she does little but giggle before she has the front-row of the crowd fawning. Ferreira plays the role of pop star for the outsiders. Her big-label push into the mainstream was a failure, instead it was her own brand of industrial-goth pop delivered via debut LP, Night Time, My Time, which has made her something of a cult favourite.
Ferreira stands and stares down the crowd before launching into opener, Boys. With lyrics straight from a teenage diary, Boys sounds like a deconstructed pop song infiltrated by crunching guitars and gun-shot drums. It was immediately powerful, setting the tone for the rest of the show.
Ain’t Your Right followed in a similar vein, with Ferreira seductively moving to the ground with her mic stand. Such is her charm. Nothing she does is abrasive, rather she pulls you in with the tips of her fingers or a tiny smile through the flicker of lights.
The press would have you believe that Ferreira is a bad-ass rebel, but in-between songs she was sweet and shy. She filled silences with “like” and spoke quickly like a nervous teenager. All the while, she was polite, constantly thanking the packed room and rolling out travel stories from her manic year on the road. She even found time to sneak in a tip of the hat to Chris Lilley’s Ja’mie by playing a “quiche” sound-bite.
With only one album to her name, Ferreira has more than enough substance to bolster an hour-long set. The left-centre pop moments came in thick and fast. 24 Hours glistened with a stratospheric chorus painted with sparkly synths. Even the more gritty, rock-skewed moments like Heavy Metal Heart provided a hearty opportunity for a loose-limbed dance.
Before I Blame Myself, Ferreira announced that she was losing her voice after doing press for 12 hours, asking the crowd to help her out. The punters, who were crawling ever-closer to the stage, happily obliged. The teenage angst driven chorus of “How would you know what it feels like?” carried some serious weight when screamed by hundreds and provided the night’s defining moment.
She closed the pre-encore set with the first single from the album, You’re Not The One. In the flesh, Ferreira is even more effective than the Perrys or Gagas of the pop world in delivering a stirring chorus. Her voice really cuts through live, punching you in the gut with every hands-in-the-air chorus.
She returned once again to deliver the Dev Hynes-produced Everything is Embarrassing. There’s no doubt the song is supremely written and executed but it felt a little detached from the gritty guitar-laden tracks from Night Time, My Time. Still, it was hard to resist the hazy ’80s prom-pop the track served up.
At the age of 21, Sky Ferreira has already turned herself from label guinea-pig into budding cult hero. On stage, she’s personable, committed and raw, and while her songs carry just the right amount of sugary melody to appease those with a penchant for pop, the grinding guitars and rollicking drums suggest that, in Ferreira’s world at least, pop is a dirty word.
Photo by Yael Stempler