A band in a huge, empty ground floor room. A girl in a white bra and blue skirt shaking her ass. Giant arched windows that look out on the street. Picture AUSTRA, fronted by the hypnotic Katie Stelmanis, in front of stage curtain. Fish are swimming behind the red velvet curtains. Three blonde women of varying ages descend a staircase. You see dancers: young women, men, dressed cutoffs, tank tops. The dancer you notice has ice blue, almost white eyes, swamp green skin and electrically charged green hair. Is she threatening? Is she friendly?
AUSTRA told us in an interview Hurt Me Now is a song Katie wrote about starting a new relationship and being vulnerable. The song itself is a warning mixed with hope: don’t fuck me over, I’m going to believe in you. Over an organ-like keyboard, she sings “I placed my heart on a table/ when the fire comes.” You want to believe it’s possible, you want to unlock that chamber in your heart, but before you want to issue a warning.
AUSTRA has been eclipsing other pop acts with their sparse electronic distinguished with Katie’s operatic voice. They are nothing if not stylish, and their stage presence is nothing if not theatrical. AUSTRA has a complete aesthetic that would naturally extend into the visuals provided by video artist M. Blash.
At one point a man drives dirt bike into the ground floor space, and four dancers walk toward the camera carrying signs that say S. O. S. Cut to Katie walking slow motion toward the camera with a group of adolescent boys, all wearing dour, serious expression. The oldest blonde rides away on the motorcycle.
In the final frames Katie is holding the severed head of the green skinned hipster zombie, with bloody strands of skin and tissue hanging down. The apparition closes her eyes, and the video ends on a slow pan out of the band members. Yes, tonight’s sound of the night on NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION is definitely a strange one.