Moaning Lisa, Keeskea, Nuclear Family @ Fat Controller, Adelaide 12/3/2022

Effortlessly punk rock and raw, Moaning Lisa slid onto Fat Controller’s stage and lit us on fire with songs drenched in queerness, mental illness, introspective musings, and protests towards mainstream mindsets. The night was chilled and filled with Australian musicians gracing the stage for us. Starting off were Nuclear Family, four young mates jamming to relaxed rock. Indie artist Keeskea played with a soft electronic band, singing ominous songs like Forfeit. The delicate yet haunting performance was hypnotising, and Keeskea’s magic vocals matched with guitar, were a trip.

After being part of the audience and supporting their fellow musicians, Moaning Lisa took the stage. Right away, Melbourne-based, Canberra-bred foursome displayed musical talent complementing their honest and creative songs. In their personalised versions of boiler suits, glamourous make-up and red lipstick, the band echoed Rosie the riveter vibes. They began the night with Good and performed Cold Water and Wild Days, tracks off their debut album. These songs are thoughts on mental health, growing up and moving on. Classics like the emotional Lily went down well and Hayley took centre stage for Take You Out. Before Charlie sang the popular Something, both Charlie and Hayley asked the crowd if they’ve had that “…someone they always go to in between relationships?” Undeniably intelligent and funny, the band had fans giggling and conversing with them amidst singing about profound topics.

Misconceptions of how to cure mental illness, which have never been more relevant, were perfectly unravelled in a string of satires in Bike Riding, their track from their Debut album Something Like This But Not This. The band paraphrase common suggestions to curing an “unhealthy mind” in their lyrics packed with ironic clichés. Mental illness cures can be misconstrued and oversimplified, and Bike Riding is the perfect protest for society to understand that mental illness isn’t an easy fix. Lead singer Charlie sings: “You should do yoga, you should get off those meds… well, you should be glad it’s not actually something bad like asthma or cataracts”.

Charlie prefaced one of their well-known songs, Carrie (I Want a Girl), which pays homage to iconic lesbian feminist artists and public figures. She enlightened us on the updated context to the track. She respectfully acknowledged recently transitioned Elliot Page and explained that she’ll be changing the lyrics to ‘…give me an Ellen Chan’, Moaning Lisa’s talented guitarist. Everyone cheered for Ellen, proud of having this genuinely captivating and mysterious musician right in front of us. The band stopped playing halfway through the song after Charlie sang ‘I want a girl who knows her sexuality’, cheekily saying “but it’s also totally fine if you’re still exploring…”

Inadequacy was the last song of the night where Hayden, Hayley, Ellen and Charlie empowered us in a queer and generally safe space to have a good time to lyrically witty music. Moaning Lisa are the new-age alternative rock band whose songs sound like a soundtrack to all the cool 90’s cult films. Playing for an intimate Adelaide crowd on the 12th of March, Moaning Lisa are a promising band who will only get bigger with their socially relevant and inspiring music.

Live Review By Zara Zampaglione

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