11 February 2020

Hottest 100 star BENEE impresses with two sold out shows at UC Hub

| Sharona Lin
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BENEE at her UC Hub concert on 5 February 2020. Photo: Sharona Lin.

Every February, a wave of fresh students descends on UC to learn and hopefully grow. But first, they party.

UC Refectory has put together an exceptional O Week line up for 2020, which is no real surprise. The venue has been going from strength to strength in 2019, and the team seems determined to carry that energy into the new decade with a spate of sold-out shows. That includes New Zealand indie bop creator BENEE, who was in Canberra last year with Spilt Milk.

We loved her then, and her star here has only risen, with three of her songs placing in Triple J’s Hottest 100 and a viral Tiktok dance challenge to her name (or at least to her single ‘Glitter’). Her first show on Tuesday sold out in just six hours, and she obliged Canberra fans with a second show on Wednesday, which also quickly sold out.

A lot of the audience forwent pre-drinking in their reses to catch support act ARCHIE, and for good reason. The band are steaming into 2020, having picked up some momentum late last year with the release of their single ‘Stranger Danger’. The Canberra locals are so shiny new (they only played their first show in July last year), they didn’t even have merch available at the gig, which disappointed more than a few punters.

Still, the crowd adored the surf-pop band, who adored them right back. They played an energetic set full of bright, fun tunes with a few singalongs – Powderfinger’s timeless ‘My Happiness’ got a great reaction, as did a cover of Thirsty Merc’s song ‘In The Summertime’ (which you might recognise as the theme song for Bondi Rescue). It’s impressive how at ease the band seems already with their live act, with each other and with the crowd. It certainly bodes well for Canberra music lovers this year.

Anticipation was high for BENEE, and huge cheers went up for her hits, including ‘Find An Island’, ‘Supalonely’ and ‘Soaked’. The New Zealander delivered the goods with her usual bright, playful demeanour. Despite the warm reception, the indie pop star did have to contend with some fairly loud audience chatter between songs, which made her banter with the crowd difficult to hear and engage in. That was a real shame, because BENEE is lovely on stage. It’s impossible to not want to be her friend.

BENEE put on a stellar show with a flawless set, but the crowd seemed distracted, especially towards the end of her set. Maybe it was the leftover, raw energy of the support set, which put everyone in a mood that didn’t quite gel with BENEE’s dreamy, mellow bops. Or maybe people were just thinking about their costume changes for the toga party scheduled after the gig.

Whatever it was, the crowd still seemed to enjoy the set (which was fairly short, wrapping up in under an hour to finish before 9:00 pm).

Check out all the photos from the show here.

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