Half an hour before Hatchie brought her brand of dream-pop to Laneway Festival 2020‘s debut at The Domain in Sydney, the heavens opened up and the sweltering hot day took a turn for the unexpected.
It may have surprised the punters, but for Hatchie – aka Harriette Pilbeam – it was an all-too-familiar sight. “Our last three shows have been rained out,” she explained halfway through her set. “We’ve had to cut them all short – hopefully, this one doesn’t.”
Spoiler alert: Not only did her Laneway set on Sunday (February 2) continue as planned, it turned out to be one of the day’s most charming moments.
The Brisbane native was dealt stiff competition with her slot at the festival – she overlapped with both R&B wunderkind Ruel and Hottest 100 toppers Ocean Alley over on the main stages – but a faithful gathering still made their way over to the tiny Alley stage. It proved to be a fruitful venture, as the live show Hatchie had been developing since the debut of the project a few years ago has evolved into the strongest group Pilbeam has ever been a part of.
She’s flanked by the same band she’s held since the release of her debut album, 2019’s ‘Keepsake’: guitarist David Gauci (ex-Death Bells), The Creases’ Joe Aguis on keys/guitar and The Grates alum Richie Dannell behind the kit. They helped bring the key cuts from ‘Keepsake’ to life, with Pilbeam herself holding down the low-end on bass to complement the ensemble’s wider spectrum of sound.
Pilbeam and co. managed to maintain the dream-pop elements of the album, enhanced by its glossy production, without having to compromise the band’s live feel. The project may be relatively fresh, but it’s far from the first rodeo for anyone involved – they were all steering a new sound with old-hand expertise.
‘Obsessed’ fizzled with an electronic undercurrent of synth-bass and clattering drum machines, while the teen-movie sheen of ‘Try’ lightened the dreary surrounds. It was quite a contrast, hearing such bright songs during a downpour – and yet, rather than being hindered by it, they pierced through like a ray of sunshine.
Having cut her teeth as a side player in Brisbane bands such as Go Violets and Babaganouj, Pilbeam is now making leading-lady moves as Hatchie, and her stage presence and confidence in her delivery have evolved delightfully. Although still an understated performer, there’s a directness and precision in the way Pilbeam sings and plays that conveys a sense of true ownership. And as she ventures further out of her shell, you’re increasingly endeared to what she’s trying to do under the Hatchie moniker.
With a resplendent take on her ballad ‘Stay With Me’ to close the set, Hatchie stole away a tiny victory in the face of the ensuing storm. The rain may come and go, but it’s really starting to feel as though Hatchie is sticking around through the seasons.