Austra released their third album, Future Politics, in January. On it, Canadian musician Katie Stelmanis takes on a dystopian vision that seems almost prescient given all that has occurred in the time since she wrote and recorded the record. But far from simply being a bleak vision, the songs seek to offer a way forward. “I’m looking for something to rise up above,” she sings in the title track, and that sense of hopefulness pervades even some of the starkest moments. The band’s recent tour brought them to the Black Cat in Washington, DC, where Stelmanis and her band presented much of the album live to a packed crowd
Backed by her long-standing live band – keyboardists Dorian Wolf and Ryan Wonsiak and drummer Maya Postepski – Stelmanis wasted no time jumping into the new tracks, starting her set with the first four songs on the album, “We Were Alive,” “Future Politics,” “Utopia,” and “I’m a Monster.” Stelmanis switched frequently between singing at a front-and-center microphone and playing her own keyboard set a little further back on the fog-filled and colorfully lit stage. From there, the band varied the set between the new and the old, intermixing new tracks like “Freepower” and “Gaia” with older songs such as “Forgive Me” from 2013’s Olympia and “Lose It” from 2011’s Feel It Break. A particular highlight of the set was the lead single off of Future Politics, “I Love You More Than You Love Yourself.” Throughout, the classically-trained Stelmanis’s soaring vocals took center stage.
The band returned for a three-song encore, including the title track of the 2014 Habitat EP and two more tracks from Olympia, “Painful Like” and “Hurt Me Now.”
Originally scheduled opener Lawfandah had to cancel at the last moment due to visa issues, but the space was ably filled by Ela Minus, the solo electronic project of Colombian-born and Brooklyn-based musician Gabriela Jimeno.