Andrew Reviews Japanese Wallpaper, Mallrat, & Allday @ Subterranean

Andrew Reviews Japanese Wallpaper, Mallrat, & Allday @ Subterranean

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The three young Aussies kicked off their North American tour in Chicago last week, and the RPM team was there to tell you how it went down.

There’s an old adage in sports that adversity doesn’t build character so much as reveal it. It’s one I’m reminded of every time I watch my favorite video on the internet. And while last week’s Mallrat/Allday/Japanese Wallpaper show at Chicago’s Subterranean may not have been as momentous as Ray Bourque finally winning the Stanley Cup, it too reminded me that adversity reveals character.

The three young Australian acts gave a performance that was honest, inviting, and above all, fun–despite having a multitude of cards stacked against them.

Anyone who’s ever flown east across the Pacific can attest to the particularly devastating jet lag that ensues. Jumping straight into the first show of a tour while still dealing with it is an ordeal in itself, but for Gab from Japanese Wallpaper, that was compounded by a traveler’s nightmare: his bandmate, Georgia, was forced to turn around upon arrival in Los Angeles because of a visa snafu.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, add to it a dropped soundboard at O’Hare airport and a soundcheck cancelled by technical difficulties and you’ve got the slew of misfortune that clouded the gig right up until Gab went onstage to start the show. A less professional musician might have let such frustration affect their performance, but not Gab. With Memphis, Allday’s keyboardist, stepping up to take on Georgia’s parts, Japanese Wallpaper jumped onstage fresh off 36 hours of travel, without the opportunity to rehearse, and busted out an awesome medley of his early hits, as well as songs from his upcoming album Glow, slated for release in October. With both his production chops and soothing baritone vocals on display, Gab showed the Chicago crowd that Japanese Wallpaper was a force to be reckoned with.

Japanese Wallpaper. Photo by Allie Pasiuk

Then, it was Mallrat’s turn. The Brisbane pop outfit made up of Grace Shaw–the self-proclaimed “Hannah Montana of the rap game”– and her effortlessly cool DJ Denim first burst onto the Australian music scene four years ago, and now it’s the world’s turn to take notice. And boy, have they ever. The sheer volume of young girls with black exes on their hands crowding the stage at the relatively small Chicago venue was striking in itself, but it was their exuberance in cheering for Grace and singing along to her lyrics that proved to me just how appealing Mallrat is on a global scale. I was lucky enough to be at one of her first ever U.S. performances at South by Southwest in 2018, and to go from being one of the only people dancing at that show to needing to retreat to the balcony to find any room to bust a move is incredible.

On her end, Grace was also dealing with the technical difficulties that were plaguing the venue that night. Sound techs rushed on and off the stage fixing in-ear mics during songs with the efficiency of pit crews during the Indianapolis 500, and they deserve all the credit for keeping the show going. But Grace took it all in stride, engaging in a heartwarming back and forth with the crowd throughout her set. “I’m very nervous,” she said of playing her first Chicago show, and a voice echoed back “don’t be nervous!” Of her songs, the now 21-year old quipped, “if you don’t like them, it’s because I wrote some of them when I was sixteen.” And when advertising her new t-shirts at the merch stand, she pulled a young girl wearing one up onstage to model it. Between the raucous singalongs and furious dancing she inspired, as well as her cheeky stage banter, there’s no two ways about it: Mallrat brought the house down.

Mallrat. Photo by Allie Pasiuk

Closing out the show was Allday, the Adelaide-via-Melbourne rapper who has been quietly building a following overseas for the better part of the past decade, to go along with the star status he holds in his native Australia. Always the showman, Allday came out in an oversized gray suit with his band in tow matching him–this despite the fact that it was a humid Midwest September night. Despite the flight and even more problems with their in-ears (you would have thought Mercury was in retrograde or something!) Allday and co. gave a crowd of devoted fans a smattering of his hits, from old favorites like 2014’s “You Always Know the DJ” to a bunch off his new record Starry Night Over the Phone, including “Restless,” which features a hook sung by cult heroes The Veronicas.

Allday. Photo by Allie Pasiuk

While Mallrat drew the loudest screams, Allday’s fans were perhaps the most dedicated. A young woman who was on line told me she had driven all the way from Indianapolis in the middle of the week to see Allday perform. I overheard another group of friends say that they’d come from Michigan. Fans sang all the hooks, filling in for The Veronicas on “Restless,” as well as artists like NYNE on “Sides.” My favorite moment of the show, though, was when Allday pointed out Japanese Wallpaper before going into the song they produced together, “In Motion.” The love and admiration that these artists all have for each other was palpable, especially as they supported each other through the draining mishaps that led up to the show. And despite all those hiccups, they still managed to pull off an engaging, character-revealing performance.

Allday, Mallrat, and Japanese Wallpaper are on their way to the East Coast right now, and I highly recommend checking them out if they’re near you. And if the amount of joy these Aussies brought to Chicago is any indication, you’ll be among good people.

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