On December 15th, the hardcore-electronica duo Machine Girl made their Canadian debut at Toronto’s Lee’s Palace, where they proved both their musical and performing abilities. Hailing from Long Island, the band had a warm welcome in the city for the first of their two sold-out shows on back to back nights.
Once I heard that Machine Girl would be playing a show here, I was intrigued, yet I wasn’t sure what to expect. The only knowledge I had of them was off-hand recommendations from friends, and that they had opened for one of my favorite bands, The Garden, on their last tour. So naturally, I had high expectations—and I half expected them to be in the same vein as The Garden, by the likes of artists like Stevie Dinner or Slater—but leaning more to their hardcore side. Machine Girl however did not fit into these artists’ genres, nor did they fit into any one specific genre. Incorporating different sounds from metal, drum & bass, punk, and electronica, they effortlessly blurred the lines between genres. The majority of their setlist was from their newer albums, which feature more vocals; compared to their older albums, which are mostly instrumental.
After joking that they’d be doing an acoustic set, the duo burst into unrecognizable sounds of electronic noise and lyrics. Machine Girl’s performance was simultaneously low and high energy; singer Matt Stephenson’s vocals ranged between slurred and coarse, with a consistent sound that somewhat resembles metal or screamo vocals. Though the performers’ energy varied, the crowd’s energy stayed high as they formed a tight pit, complete with moshing and crowd-surfing. In the second half of their set, Stephenson ventured out into the parted crowd, climbing onto railings and rallied up the audience. Overall, this felt like a very intimate show; partly because of the venue’s small but optimal layout, but also because of the duo’s successful attempt to connect with their fans. They bordered on an industrial sound as they utilized repetitive glitches and hardcore drums throughout each song. Their show could best be described by their merch that read:
“I WENT TO A MACHINE GIRL SHOW AND BASICALLY IT WAS A 65,000 YEAR LONG RAVE IN 30 MINUTES…”
Perhaps controversially, what stuck out to me most at this show was the opener, New York’s Lust$ickPuppy. Dressed for the occasion with clown face paint, many of the concert’s attendees had come specifically for her—and I immediately understood why. Her music was danceable and high-energy, with obviously experimental electronic beats. On top of this, her highly charismatic stage presence immediately engaged the audience, as everyone flooded towards the stage. With witty banter, she effortlessly captured everyone’s attention. Her take on experimental electronica was something I hadn’t really heard before, as she blended her punk vocal style with drum and bass beats. Both performances brought a new sound to the stage, and though this was my first introduction to the two acts, they gained a new fan.