There are some musicians I wish I’d known about before they hit the big time. And others I heard about because they’d hit the big time. Megan Washington fits into both of these categories. I’ve loved her music since early last year and her debut album I Believe You Liar has been on constant rotation. She was my favourite thing about last year’s ARIAs. I’d booked a ticket to see her last year but I missed the show due to illness. So I was excited to see her touring again and snapped up a ticket on the day of release.
I saw her live on Friday night and I have to say, I was disappointed. Maybe my expectations were too high. But I felt there was something lacking.
She can sing so well. Her voice is pretty amazing. And she’s written great, danceable songs (my favourites at the concert were Sunday Best, Rich Kids and Cement) and also some slower songs (I love Underground and it was so moving on Friday) and also songs about ‘shame and pity’ – her words.
The show was packed with pretty young things, in cool clothes sourced from the op-shop, who looked like Frankie and Yen readers, after alternative intelligent musical role models compared to the offerings of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry (I also fit most of this profile!). Most of the girls and guys around me looked like they enjoyed the show – singing and dancing their big Australian music loving hearts out. I sang along too. But I still left the concert underwhelmed.
Megan Washington has a sexy stage presence. Her dress was amazing. She bared milky skin on her arms and shoulders, sultry eyes, and a short dress that at times would have aroused the boys and girls in the room. She moves on stage like she’s having sex. Standing at the keyboard, her legs writhe, her shoulders are languid. I was envious of her body. She’s beautiful.
But a sexy stage presence is all she has. She lacks charisma. I love the banter musicians make between songs. Megan Washington told stories – one about a man in the US who carried a sword, another about how she tried not to swear at an all ages gig, but they weren’t that funny or heartfelt and a times were a bit nervously delivered. The best bit was when she said she was told Lisa Mitchell was prettier than her at a show she played on her birthday in Tarthra, and her drummer asked if she had a dollar.
At times she came across precocious – playfully mocking a guy who asked her to play Sunday Best midway through the set – she replied along the lines of ‘do you really expect me to play that now? Have you ever been to a gig? Do you understand the natural progression of a gig?’. And someone asked her to tell a joke – fair enough she is a singer – but her reply was ‘the comedy festival is over’, said in quite a sarcastic way.
She admitted she was drunk. Maybe that explains these comebacks. While she wasn’t hideously messy-drunk, I thought the drunkeness hampered the show. I heard some guys after the show say she’d put heaps of swearing into songs where originally they didn’t feature swearing. A lot of the time she sort of looked tired and somewhat bored – she flopped her arms over the keyboard or hung doubled over nearly touching the ground – I wondered if she was going to fall over, or was she just playing with passion?
I spoke with some people while walking out of the show after it’d finished. They said they were disappointed too – they thought she just played without feeling. They found her pretentious. And didn’t think she did much to get the crowd going. I told friends of mine I was sad to be disappointed by her concert. ‘She has no charisma! Seen her at Falls and it was a let down. Very uninteresting’, J said. Another friend said ‘I was disappointed to find that she was not particularly engaging at Falls’. And lastly, C said ‘ I agree. also disappointed when I saw her at Falls 🙁 great voice though! Also I really want to like her more and I remember thinking/hoping she’d have been better in a more intimate setting before she’d hit the big time…’
I have struggled with writing this. I hope to only write good reviews here. But I can’t be won over by every band I see, and I want to be honest. I wish I had seen Megan Washington before she hit the big time too. While she thanked the crowd for supporting her, and her music really sounded good, I don’t think she gave enough of herself to us, or even was truly respectful. It’s surprising given that she gives a lot of herself to her Facebook fans. I read this in depth interview on The Vine. She says ‘I don’t feel like being a musician is any different than my personal self. I feel like that’s evident in my really close dialogue I have with everybody on Facebook and stuff. I want to be accountable’.
I want to try to change my mind about her. She’s worked so hard for years at her craft. She’s intelligent and quirky and a great writer. I love her music. So I am wondering why her onstage presence has disappointed me so much when I don’t know her personally? I want to like her. I really do.