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Event Coverage: Moaning Lisa EP Launch

Photo by James Marchet

In just over a year, Moaning Lisa has become one of the most beloved bands in Canberra’s local music scene. The four piece band is made up of Charlotte Napangardi Versegi and Hayley Manwaring on bass, rhythm guitar and vocals; Ellen Chan on lead guitar and Hayden Fritzlaff on drums. The group have gained a lot of attention with their powerful combination of 90’s grunge rock with soaring vocal harmonies and catchy lead guitar licks that will get stuck in your head for days.

The band travelled to Melbourne and recorded four songs at Ginger Studios in late 2016 before taking to the underground stage at Transit Bar in Canberra’s city centre to launch their debut EP, The Sweetest, on March 23rd. The show was quite a mixed bag of musical acts, with Goulburn high-energy punk trio Marlon Bando, and Canberra’s own dreamy blues/folk band The Lowlands providing support for the show. The crowd at Transit Bar is often a mixed bunch too; the venue offers free pool and has regular competitions, so there are often players who are more than happy to pay the cover charge for a live music event in order to get in for a few games over the course of the evening.


Photo by James Marchet
Marlon Bando kicking off Moaning Lisa’s EP launch at Transit Bar

Marlon Bando opened the show with their famously explosive and high-energy brand of punk rock. The young trio from Goulburn assaulted the crowd with screeching guitar riffs and fast, cracking drum rhythms that provide a backing track to frontman Lachlan Phelps’ screamed vocal outbursts. After the first two songs; Lachlan and second guitarist, Grant Turner, had both broken strings on their guitars. The trio pressed on through the set, seemingly not at all bothered by this as they thrashed their bodies around the stage like wild animals. After about twenty minutes of unrelenting ferocity, the band closed their set with their song Painless, and left the stage to clean the blood and spilt beer from their instruments.


After a short break, The Lowlands were set up and ready to play. This was a major shift in gears from Marlon Bando, as Ella Hunt soothed the crowd with her sweet and soulful voice. The audience swayed and sang along as the band carried them away into the lives of the characters in their songs. The bass in The Lowlands is provided by Joel Davy on the cello, which creates an equally soothing and intense undertone to Ella’s vocal melodies and the blues drenched licks of lead guitarist, Tim Douglass.  They played most of their self-titled EP, which was released last year, before ending the set with A Springtime Dream. The outro of the song builds and swells from a simple chord progression into an all-encompassing surge of rolling rhythms and intricate guitar and cello melodies. With that their set was done and the audience took a break to grab a drink or go to the bathroom before returning to the floor to eagerly await the main event.

Photo by James Marchet
The Lowlands performing at the Moaning Lisa EP launch

By the time Moaning Lisa took the stage, the floor in front of them was packed. Moaning Lisa regularly encourage girls to come and stand at the front of their concerts, as this is an area generally dominated by a male presence, they like to encourage their female fans to get up close and experience the performance from front and centre. As soon as they started playing the whole crowd began to rock from side-to-side in rhythm with the music. Hands shot into the air as fans screamed the band’s lyrics back at them. This kind of audience response is something really special in a city like Canberra, and you could tell that Moaning Lisa was feeding off it and really giving the fans everything they had.

Over the course of forty minutes the band played through their discography, including all of the tracks from the EP they were there to launch. Hayley and Charlotte’s stunning vocal harmonies gave me chills while Ellen flaunted her impressive finger work on the guitar, playing the familiar melodies that everyone in the room had come to love over the past twelve months. The final song of the evening was Moaning Lisa’s hit Comfortable, which had become a huge favourite amongst their fans. The song is about self-love, and not needing to be attached to someone else in order to be happy.

After the bands had finished, fans swarmed around the merchandise table to buy t-shirts and copies of Moaning Lisa’s EP, which they released in the unusual format of a lyrics book with a download code attached. The pages are filled with handwritten lyrics and the artwork of three local artists, Gus Bamberry, Alice Worley and Benedicte Rutherford O’Leary.

Moaning Lisa’s EP The Sweetest is now available on iTunes, and can also be purchased from their bandcamp page at




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