Live Concert Photography: Methyl Ethel with Ada Lea at Bowery Ballroom 9/29/19

Live Concert Photography: Methyl Ethel with Ada Lea at Bowery Ballroom 9/29/19

Jake Webb is a Perth, Australia-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer and creative mastermind behind the Perth-based recording project Methyl Ethel. Over the past handful of years, Webb has seen tremendous commercial and critical success in his native Australia and elsewhere: Webb has amassed over 25 million  Spotify streams globally. His single “Ubu,” became an ARIA Accredited Gold single earlier this year, after landing at #4 on Triple J’s 2017 Hottest 100. And his tour dates across both Australia and the UK have been sold out since 2016. 

Although Webb has achieved both commercial and critical success in a relatively short period of time, Methyl Ethel initially began as a sort of personal challenge. “I wanted to see if I could write, record and release some music before the band I was in at the time finished doing the same. I did and subsequently withdrew from some close friends. Relationships were severed. I severed some even closer ones. This was all played out in such a public away, as it invariably does, so I withdrew more. My first album Oh Inhuman Spectacle became the ‘why me?/fuck you/sorry’ album that I wrote as a confused coping mechanism. It helped and I enjoyed it. I continued the introspective journaling with the follow-up, Everything is Forgotten. For me, that album said ‘who cares? all your emotions are irrational and meaningless anyway.’ 

“This year, I found myself in the same city, alone in a room tasked with writing an album to be heard, not as an outlet for personal grievances. I decided to find closure with Triage. The question this time around is ‘what is important? What requires attention?’ I think It’s about living with secrets. Secrets cause the problems. They call them white lies, little things used to manipulate people for the greater good. It’s a triage of truths to maintain an artifice. A poem by T.S Elliot that I referenced on the first EP I recorded says it best:

To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
“Everyone is older, people have moved on. I receive text messages from old friends looking to reconnect. I have a masochistic social complex in so far as I enjoy the company of others, but self-imposed solitude and exile are exciting and useful to me. Its like method acting, which isn’t too far removed from the emotional memory I see people drawing upon every day. I challenge the idea of friendship and trust. I think because I am untrustworthy. At least I’m honest about that.” Understandably, Webb’s third Methyl Ethel album Triage, which was released earlier this year through 4AD Records is arguablythemostreflective and introspective album of his career, as the album thematically focuses on time and its passing, of getting older and only occasionally becoming more mature, of the the lies we tell ourselves and have to keep to keep on getting by and so on. 
Now, as you may recall, earlier this year, I wrote about album single “Real Tight,” a track that was a sonic and lyrical departure for Webb, as the song was arguably the most pop-leaning and emotionally direct song of his growing catalog. Centered around swelling and soaring hooks, shimmering and arpeggiated synths and chiming, reverb-drenched guitars. Clearly being indebted to 80s synth pop, the song features a narrator making an urgent and desperate plea to someone he deeply cherishes — but while emotionally being a jumble of guilt, devotion, fear and uncertainty.
Webb along with his touring band, which features Thom Stewart, Chris Wright, Lyndon Blue and Jacob Diamond headlined a high energy set at Bowery Ballroom last month that was primarily centered around the material off Triage. Montreal-based singer/songwriter and visual artist Ada Lea opened. Check photos from the show below. 

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Alexandra Levy is a Montreal-based singer/songwriter, guitarist, painter and visual artist, who writes, records and performs as Ada Lea. Levy has long viewed her music and her visual art, which has largely been inspired by Sylvia Plath, Frida Kahlo, Eva Hesse, Karen Dalton and Nina Simone as ways for her communicate similar creative ideas through vastly different media. 

Whether painting, visual art or her music, Levy’s work explores the concept of womanhood as it feels and looks to her, and how love transforms over time — with an unvarnished honesty. Interestingly, her full-length debut why we say in private can trace its origins to a need to document the ending of an important romantic relationship. Following a tormented period in which she stayed up for days at a time, frantically painting and writing songs as a way of coping. And during that period, she went on to journal for 180 consecutive days in the hopes that she would find herself again.

Levy’s self-analysis and introspection occurred in private and the process eventually resulted in a rebirth for her, in which she rediscovered herself and discovered a new sense of freedom and self-acceptance. Unsurprisingly, the chaotic feelings of her breakup and the eventual resulting catharsis of her personal life — and throughout the entire album, she reportedly expresses the thoughts and feelings that we all have in private and are conditioned to keep to ourselves, which makes the album’s material deeply confessional and raw.

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For these photos and more, check out the Flickr set here: