In celebration of their latest EP, Ugly Cry, HABITS designed a night of darkly disturbing yet enthralling synth chaos at Northcote Social Club on the Saturday 23rd of April, supported by Lucy Cliché, Greyon and DJ ASPS between sets to keep the dance floor pumping.
HABITS is the artistic creation of two exceptionally captivating artists, referred to as only Mohini and Mat. If you have been living in Melbourne over the past couple of years, you would have seen a poster, something on social media or maybe even listened to a friend monologuing about their undying love for their music; it’s just that kind of act. Despite one of the most loyal fan bases to come out of Australia, they continue to remain mysterious and enigmatic, preferring to retain all creative control over their image and how it is presented to the public. Between this considered approach to media, their publicly queer identities/politics (their correct gender pronouns are they/them) and their unique dark, dancey, synth pop, HABITS have established themselves as a cult classic for this generation.
By 8:30 DJ ASPS was already weaving her experimental dark wave music to a quickly gathering crowed, moving through 80’s movies samples twisted into barely recognizable beats of madness, ASPS electrified the venue in preparation for the first support, Geryon.
Before Geryon was on stage, the venue had already produced one of the biggest turn outs for a second support slot seen in years. The NSC was filled with colourful hair, outrageous outfits and vibrant energy. It was obvious in the way the crowed intermingled with one another that everyone knew of each other through the social scenes, creating a unique dynamic for entertainer and punter alike.
Geryon stood almost timid before their equipment, sheepishly thanking HABITS and expressing adoration for their work. They quickly went on to perform a chilling hybrid of techno dream pop that was haunting in its spooky, emotive performance. At one point it did seem as if their nerves got the best of them as they waited to catch the beat on their pad rather than “feeling it”. Creating a moment of off-beat timing before it was quickly overcome and then rectified. Geryon’s set had everyone dancing.
After another pulse pumping intermission by DJ ASPA, Lucy Cliché took to the stage. Cliché was all business taking no time to speak to the crowd before pumping out her particular brand of murder ballad inspired techno. By this point of the night, the crowd were … enthusiastic in their dancing. It was surreal to watch the queer rave scene in TNS’s band room, a place usually reserved for skinny white boys with guitars. It was excellent to see some diversity. The only questionable part of Lucy Cliché’s set was a use of, what can only be described as a deflating police siren. Jarring and dissonant in a less then intentional way.
By the time HABITS were set, the crowd were at peak mayhem. Punters had been kept waiting in front of a curtain drawn stage, uncertain of what awaited behind it. Smoke, – stained purple -, seeped through gaps and into the crowed before the curtain was drawn open to reveal Mohini and Mat, shrouded in smoke, sporting matching orange hair bearing down on the cheering crowed. The moment HABITS were on the stage, they were performing. With their self-described “sad goth party jams”, everyone screamed along to their dance pop nightmares. The performance was at once over-powering in defiance of classifications, – both musically and in their personal lives -, yet welcoming, as if they desired you to join them on the proverbial “other side”. HABITS’ post punk techno vocals, indie pop sweetness, dark and foreboding swells and passionate self-expression combined to make a performance that needs to be seen to be believed.