Noise Pop Review + Photos: Tash Sultana @ The Swedish American Hall
What started as a few viral, YouTube videos has quickly turned into sold out shows worldwide. Melbourne’s Tash Sultana has quickly gained an enormous following over the last year, hypnotizing crowds with her passionate and soulful songs. Sultana is touring the US for the first time this year and we were lucky enough to get a front row seat to her show at the Swedish American Hall in San Francisco.
The night started off with solo performances from supporting acts Affectionately, Monster Rally and Josh Cashman. Cashman, childhood friends with Sultana, is rising star our of Melbourne and his talent in undeniable. Like Sultana, Cashman uses the loop pedal to create his songs from the ground up, layering deep beats with his folky voice to create meaningful songs. It’s really spectacular to watch. The crowd loved him immediately, but he really gained their attention when he put his own soulful touch on Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” People shouting “We love you” and then flocking over to the merch table after the performance makes it clear that Cashman has a bright career ahead of him.
Not long after Cashman finished his set, the crowd slowly started pushing closer to the front of the stage, looking for any space to get closer to Sultana. As she walks on stage, he crowd immediately starts cheering and wooing as if they are watching the next big rock star unveil themselves from behind the curtains. All smiles, Sultana grabs her guitar, takes a look into the crowd and begins teasing them with the smooth riffs from her guitar. Sultana stands barefoot on a beautifully designed cloth, which is laid over a makeshift stage a few feet above the crowd. From the moment she steps on that stage, her enormous stage presence puts a sparkle in everyone’s eye as they watch Sultana layer her songs, building them from the ground up.
In between songs, she charms with crowd with her soft banter and makes sure everyone there is having a good time. She tells a story about how someone threw something at her while she was on stage a few months ago and it really hurt her feelings. “So, just love the fuck out of everyone,” she says and the crowd erupts with applause, showing how much they appreciate her. Shortly after, she quiets down the crowd and tells them about a recent loss she had in her family. She goes on to talk about the spectrum of life and death, only to finish with “fill the middle with the best fucking vibes and we’ll all be alright.” Once again, the crowd shows their gratitude with applause and the occasional “woo” coming from the back.
Sultana does a great job connecting with the crowd, getting them involved during songs and playfully teasing them with riffs from her big songs “Notion” and “Jungle.” She takes the crowd through an emotional roller coaster, telling personal stories, charming you with her positivity throughout the show and then grabbing her guitar to rock out. Sultana doesn’t just perform, she lives her music. Every note coming out of an instrument makes it’s way through her body and into her face. She’s animated, she’s excited and it’s very obviously she lives for her music.
Sultana finishes the night off with a 10 minute version of her song “Blackbird” on the 12 string guitar (far left picture). When she was done, the crowd was chanting for more songs, but an encore never came. Overall, Sultana’s performance was outstanding. Watching Sultana perform is inspiring and breathtaking. She frequently changes instruments, beatboxing from time to time, constantly fiddling with the loop pedals and showcasing her raw talent to every person in the crowd. If you missed her this time, she will be back in the states later in the year for her second official US Tour.