Love, Art & Montaigne
Montaigne enchanted festival-goers at Southbound, she enthralled fans at Groovin’ The Moo, but even those performances couldn’t have prepared anyone for her entrancing concert.
As she told us in our interview with her in the lead up to her Glorious Heights tour, she is born performer. Jessica Cerro expresses herself through her music under the moniker Montaigne, named after the great Renaissance era philosopher and her personal philosophical inspiration, Michel de Montaigne.
Despite the two titles, she doesn’t view it as leading a double life; Jess and Montaigne are one and the same. However, if you were to attempt to distinguish between the two, the difference between her festival performances and her own show could be the most sensible approach to discerning her identity.
At Southbound and Groovin’ The Moo, Montaigne’s sets were exuberant, energising and even somewhat melodramatic, in the best way possible. But her performance at Capitol on Saturday night gave more of an insight into Jess. It was intimate, inspiring and irresistible.
But the night began with Alex the Astronaut, a talented soccer player like Montaigne, who aside from making sensational electronic indie pop, also studies thermodynamics and astrophysics in New York. Because why not, right?
Alex seeks to tell stories of all things odd and ordinary of the everyday. Drawing from the likes of the legendary David Bowie and storytelling Australian artists Paul Kelly and Courtney Barnett, the multi-skilled young woman has somehow found the time to establish herself as a rising star in the Australian music scene.
She was followed by Sydney ‘70’s inspired outfit I Know Leopard, who have today announced an East Coast tour this September. With innovative instrumentation reminiscent of Montaigne herself, the endearing, funky and celestial pop tunes didn’t take long to get the crowd grooving.
Alex the Astronaut and I Know Leopard were the perfect atmosphere builders for the young art pop sensation everyone had come to experience. Finally the time had come, as Montaigne burst on to the stage to an erupting, enthused crowd consisting of a unique, varied and fervent fan base.
Her impassioned 75-minute set was truly special. With her surreal vocals, mesmerising energy and quirky personality, the whole room permeated with love and joy.
The show kicked off with (and at) Glorious Heights, before she channelled her high energy into emotional intensity with her slower, poignant songs — such as 'Lonely', 'Consolation Prize' and the 'Come Back To Me' interlude, which are generally overlooked during festival performances.
But the dancing vibes soon returned, with Montaigne vibrating in ecstatic locomotion and stumbling and collapsing all over the stage as she performed 'In The Dark', before the night culminated with 'Till It Kills Me'. Personally, I was already dead — in the best way possible — but as she left the stage to an elated applause, any big Montaigne fan knew something was missing.
An uproarious, enthusiastic chant of "ONE MORE SONG!" quickly began, with Montaigne returning for one more fantastic wreck of a song. “Will you love me?” she asked. The response was an emphatic, emotional yes.
The powerful tunes were interspersed with cute and funny monologues — explaining the meaning behind the songs (such as triple j fan favourite 'Because I Love You' being about her immature obsession with her ex-boyfriend turned self-professed messiah), and commenting on her own weirdness, or rather, I would argue, her idiosyncratic charm.
Ultimately, her greatest strength in making her so remarkably endearing lies in her vulnerability. She is so genuine, so open to learning, experiencing, and growing. She’s just so real. Couple this empowering vulnerability with her otherworldly vocals, embellished instrumentation and philosophical inclinations, and you have someone that’s talented, beautiful, loving, and has something to say.
Be sure to check out our interview with her in the lead up to her Glorious Heights tour!