On the night of January 25th, a line consisting of primarily women stretched around the corner of St. Catherine and De Bleury, waiting to pass underneath a large sign with that week’s lineup and into Studio TD. This is a venue I’ve frequently attended during my time at McGill; the space allows for an up-close and personal performance experience without overcrowding in the pit below the stage.
This night, in particular, was distinguished by a frigid temperature of fourteen degrees below zero. As my friends and I arrived just before doors, after pregaming with glitter and Whitelaw, the ambiance outside the venue was lively: new fans excited to see their most recent favourite song live, and old fans who were there for her last Montreal performance, filled the space leading to the entrance. All these people braved the cold to see Suki Waterhouse.
With her own guitarist and bassist, Blondshell connected with the audience through honest intermissions and intense strobe lighting.
The show started off with the opening act, Blondshell, who took full advantage of her time on stage. With her own guitarist and bassist, Blondshell connected with the audience through honest intermissions and intense strobe lighting. As openers often do, Blondshell surprised the audience and definitely gained a few new fans. Murmurs often along the lines of ‘wow, she’s good’ circulated amongst the crowd. For me, there was less shock, as my roommate has a knack for familiarizing herself with opening acts and, as expected, prefaced the show with a glowing review of Blondshell and a rundown of her discography. Blondshell left the stage with an impressive round of applause from the audience, and the obligatory interlude commenced: T-shirts were bought and drinks were drunk.
The bathroom was filled with women drenched in black eyeliner, and many could be spotted wearing some form of fur, despite the tendency of TD to get warm. Soon, though, it was Waterhouse’s time to address the crowd. She entered wearing a nude bralette, a rhinestone chain link top, and a structured blazer. Her vocals were just as smooth and blasé as her familiar Spotify recordings. With a much more relaxed stage presence and presentation compared to her opener, notable highlights included “Devil I Know” and “Melrose Meltdown” in the pre-encore set. And as expected, she finished her encore with the TikTok-popular “Good Looking.” Waterhouse handled microphone problems with grace and discretion, checked all the expected boxes with her setlist, and didn’t shy away from her older records. Additionally, she had a band that matched her energy and highlighted her vocal strengths.
With a much more relaxed stage presence and presentation compared to her opener, notable highlights included “Devil I Know” and “Melrose Meltdown” in the pre-encore set.
After the show concluded, I reflected on the commentary of the crowd throughout the night. All female lineups usually hail mostly female crowds; however, the audience of this performance, in particular, was seemingly more notably female; Waterhouse herself even remarked on the lack of male presence.
After reflecting further on the concert and its audience, I came to the realisation that the sexualization of female performers is often equally perpetuated by men and women. Towards the beginning of the set, a wolf whistle sounded, and when Waterhouse took her blazer off, a resounding round of applause with enthusiastic cheering was heard. Indeed, the main contribution of the crowd was praises of Waterhouse’s physical appearance or sexiness. The three feet of elevation from pit to stage does little to quell sexualization. I reflected still how I was less vocally a proponent of this: why had I noted so quickly what Waterhouse was wearing, or that Blondshell hadn’t done her hair and makeup? Comparing this to a show I attended last year of the all-male band Houndmouth, also at Studio TD, I realized the things I remembered about the band and their performance had almost nothing to do with their physical appearance.
Indeed, the main contribution of the crowd was praises of Waterhouse’s physical appearance or sexiness.
Suki Waterhouse and Blondshell did phenomenally and were, in theory, praised as such. But the tone of the show could not be ignored. This tone proved yet again confirmation that women can be famous, artistic, talented, and a million other things, but at the end of the day, are still subjected through aspects of their womanhood and to patriarchal values that more often than not sexualize female artists. Female artists are still frequently seen as women first, and creatives second, and thus have to endure symptoms of patriarchy, even while up on stage.