Estère, Auckland NZ, 2017

Estère
11th August 2017
LOT23, Auckland, New Zealand.

Review by Bridget Herlihy. Photography by Leah Victoria.

Estère performing live at LOT23, Auckland, New Zealand, 2017. Image by LeVic Visuals.

If you haven’t heard of Estère yet you are seriously missing out. This Wellington native is a tour de force, encompassing the roles of singer, songwriter, musician, sound engineer and producer. And the results are, well, tremendous. Having molded her own mysterious yet intriguingly titled genre, Electric Blue Witch-Hop, Estère constructs a multi-textured soundscape of beats and rhythms, creating a lush soundscape that is bursting with an array of samples, simple everyday noises taken for granted in a world full of sounds; the sound of a drawer shutting, the clicking tongue of a possum, and the breeze softly blowing through Vietnamese bamboo are stealthily intertwined into the tracks.

To celebrate the release of her latest track, Pro Bono Techno Zone, Estère marked the occasion by performing two live shows in Auckland and Wellington. The first of which took place at Auckland’s LOT23; a fittingly unconventional art/café/studio space for an unconventional performer and artist. The intimate venue proved to be the perfect setting for the first night of celebrations, as the near-capacity crowd’s anticipation boiled over into excitement as Estère made her way through the crowd to the stage.

Having performed as a solo artist with her trusty MPC sidekick Lola, this performance not only marked the release of Estère’s latest single, but also the beginning of a new incantation of her shows; an evolution of her live performance which features not only machine, but also real live humans on percussion. Ably accompanied by percussionist Olivia Campion and Jordan Grey on drums and bass, the trio (and Lola) soon had the walls of the venue quite literally shaking with an electric bevy of electronic beats, loops, samples, with Estère’s ethereal and mesmerizing vocals filling the studio with ease. Delivering a set which featured a number of new tunes, opening track Control Freak kicked the set straight into fifth gear with its string beats, which was quickly followed by the hard groove of 2016’s single release Ambition. The live rendition of Pro Bono Techno Zone was nothing short of superb, with the live percussion section providing an additional dimension and energy to what is already a stellar track. New track Gun Kid was another standout song from the set which saw Estère effortlessly shift between a heavy hip-hop driven chorus into a much slower, soulful beat overlaid with serene vocals; an impressive juxtaposition between two different rhythms and genres that was flawless.

Estère is stunning; an artist with a seemingly boundless imagination and talent, and a refreshing approach to music making. Breaking free of the often-insipid subject matter of popular music, she delves much, much deeper lyrically; tackling themes such as the evolution of species, the impacts and effects of technology, and our dependence upon, and relationships with, our digital technologies. Estère’s music is music that makes you think. Yet paradoxically, her voice and beats are so mesmerizing that it is almost impossible to not lose yourself in her masterfully crafted soundscapes.

This was indeed a special night with Estère delivering a very special performance that was immensely enjoyable with the live band, and of course her trusty machine sidekick Lola, delivering an energetic set of electric blue witch-hop. The only downside was that the set didn’t last longer. Much, much longer. When it comes to Estère, once is never enough. This empress is destined for greatness, and quite rightly so.

Were you there at LOT23 for this magnificent performance? Or have you seen Estère perform live somewhere else before? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Setlist:
  1. Control Freak
  2. Ambition
  3. Vietnam
  4. Pro Bono Techno Zone
  5. Rent
  6. Jellyfish Strings
  7. Gun Kid
  8. Guilty
  9. Grandmother
  10. Nomads
  11. L’ouiseau (Encore)

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