October 24, 2018 at Great Scott
On a quiet Wednesday night when most Bostonians were tuned into their TVs watching the Red Sox in the World Series something special was happening inside of the Great Scott in Allston. Australian singer and songwriter Stella Donnelly was able to completely captivate a small and intimate crowd and completely pull them out of what was happening outside.
Donnelly has been extremely busy since the release of her debut EP Thrush Metal, touring her home country and traveling the world. During her performances, she tells personal stories that range from simple things like awkward dates to more serious topics such as sexual assault. She is able to create a landscape of sound with only her guitar and her voice. Stella shared stories about each song’s origin before performing them. Her storytelling made each song more meaningful when, since I could connect the lyrics to her mindset when she wrote them. She told tales of her times working at the old pub in her hometown and shared her experience getting a visa to come play these shows in America.
The setlist included her entire EP and some unreleased songs. The room lit up with smiles and enjoyment when Stella performed her hits such as “Mechanical Bull”. One song that stuck out during her set was “Boys Will Be Boys,” a song about her friend’s experience with sexual assault. Donnelly sang about others doubting her friend’s story and asked the crowd how they would deal with it, with lines like “Would you blame your little sister if she cried to you for help?” The song conveyed a strong message and emphasized her strength for bringing these complex and uncomfortable topics to light. My favorite song of the night was “Grey.” With fast fingerpicking and a smooth vocal melody on top, it beautifully showcased Donnelly’s musical ability.
One of my favorite parts of Donnelly’s set was the bond she created with the crowd. She made us feel connected through conversation and storytelling, which was something I didn’t realize I wanted from a concert. It felt like she was performing for a group of friends rather than separating us as artist and audience.
All photos by Moin Khwaja