I remember the first time I saw The Preatures perform live.
It was in 2015 and I was working as a bartender at the old Mona Vale Hotel – a venue less known for its amazing live music atmosphere and more so for its underage fence jumpers and general drunken debauchery. (RIP our grotty pub, it’s now hidden under the sparkling Sydney Collective refurbishment – Park House.)
Perhaps this is the reason that, despite never having listened to the band’s music, I immediately snubbed them. It wasn’t helped by the extremely misplaced music snobbery that I carried with me when I was younger.
I was scoping the floor of the venue – my arms filled with a mountain of disposable plastic beer cups at the time – when I had one of the most impactful musical experiences of my life.
The second I caught a glimpse of the stage I quickly rejected my preconceived notions. I found myself immediately captivated by Isabella Manfredi’s dominating stage presence and I found myself in awe of the band’s ability to turn what I always considered to be a “shithole venue” into a beautifully majestic musical atmosphere.
I was drawn in by catchy tunes such as Somebody’s Talking and Is this How You Feel? and I have remained a fan ever since. Fast forward a few years and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that they are my favorite band in the country.
Since then, they have become major players in the Australian festival scene. Ahead of their upcoming set at Big Pineapple this weekend, Jack Moffitt took the time to speak to me, expressing some favorite aspects of the Australian festival scene.
“I think it’s got a lot to do with being there with people you don’t get to see very often. Friends in other bands. Making new friends… I’ve always found that part of it really enjoyable,” he shared.
“I like to go and walk out and watch groups in the crowd because I never really went to festivals as a kid and I just enjoy that buzz… The purpose is to be there and appreciate live music.”
The Preatures recently reached a career milestone when they were chosen as the support act for Harry Styles on his Australian tour. As arguably one of the biggest pop acts of this century, Moffitt reflected on the experience as a whole.
“It was pretty rad. He’s got amazing fans. There’s no fans like them. It’s like The Beatles or something… Screaming girls. There’s so many great things about that show as well. He’s an extremely generous performer and I just thought ‘that’s such a great attitude to have.’ He just wants to go out and make people happy.”
This is an attitude that The Preatures very much embody in their own live performances; they’re scaling back their Magick tour in order to play smaller venues all over the country, including around rural Australia.
As a result, they will reach areas that don’t necessarily have the same live music luxuries that we in major cities take for granted.
“Playing smaller places again and being close to people and feeling that rush of being close to the audience,” he enthused.
“That thing that you can’t really get from trying to react with people from behind the riot barricades – it’s just totally different when they’re right there in front of you. I find that I haven’t felt that for so long and I almost don’t remember exactly what that’s going to be like. So I’m sort of apprehensive and excited and nervous and all the feelings.”
With the rise of the #metoo movement, the Australian music industry is in the midst of a cultural shift that has been long overdue.
As a result, some artists have been applauded as champions of gender equality, while others have been condemned as perpetuating discrimination and abuse.
Isabella Manfredi has been extremely vocal part of this movement, reaching out to fans who have experienced sexual discrimination or misconduct via social media and appearing on Q&A to share some of her personal experiences.
She is also an ambassador of NOW Australia, inspired by the international #MeToo and Time’s Up movements and lead by Tracey Spicer.
“I think we’re living in a really serious shift and you can get on board or you can sort of ignore it, and I think one of the great things about being in a group with a female – especially an extremely headstrong person like Isabella – it’s really brought to my attention just how much of our day to day is a construct that’s been built up to suit men, and I don’t agree with that.
“Talking about gender equality and all of the issues that carries with it… just by being in a group with somebody who’s suffered… my privilege is something that I’m becoming aware of, and that’s not healthy. I don’t want that to continue in my lifetime.”
An issue as delicate as this can leave many men wondering what their place is in the era of #metoo. But many would agree that in order to progress as a society we must come together – whether male, female or non-binary.
So, what exactly can men do to help make a difference? Moffitt mused: “I think it starts at an extremely basic level. It’s just got to do with the interactions that we have with one another, particularly between men and women and men getting learned.
“Feminism has been going on with or without us for decades now and I think that it’s time that a lot of men checked in with that.
“It takes recognising it and acknowledging it and acknowledging the past to really acknowledge what the future’s going to be like and be a part of it.”
If #metoo is reflective of anything, it’s that art and music can be strong catalysts of change.
“I don’t think you can be creatively aware or artistically creative and not think that what you’re trying to do is change the world. ‘Cause you make your art even at a simple level to change your world – to change the world around you… and gradually, I think as people start to recognise what you’re doing, you are changing the world at some level.”
Never more than in the modern day has their been a higher demand for high profile public figures to embrace some level of ethical social responsibility.
Over the past year, several careers have come to an end because they have come to represent all that we are working away from. Whether artists like it or not – they are role models.
“I think the more you start to realise when you create something you’re having an affect on your immediate world, there is a resbonsibility that you carry with it. It shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“Sometimes it’s not easy to work out what your responsibilities are, but if you’re the kind of person that’s listening to the world as you push gently against it and hear what it’s saying back to you, that can be enough.”
The Preatures are to me, the embodiment of everything fantastic about Australian music mixed in with the upholding of social responsibility in Australia.
Whether it be through Manfredi’s activism in regard to #metoo or the groups embracing of Australia’s Indigenous communities through the song Yanada, they very much represent a willingness to embrace the beautiful aspects of positive social change.
They have shown me and others that music and art truly have the power to influence real and definitive change.
To quote School of Rock, “One great rock show can change the world.”
Make sure to catch them on their upcoming Magick tour. Full tour dates and tickets available here.