Pop-rock wizard Tash Sultana has transformed from an Australian viral sensation into an indie darling | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Pop-rock wizard Tash Sultana has transformed from an Australian viral sensation into an indie darling

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Australian multi-instrumentalist Tash Sultana is an expressive performer, and that quality comes through strong in the viral YouTube videos that have helped her transform her from a street busker into a rising pop-rock darling. In her 2016 breakthrough video for “Jungle”—a blustery, woeful ballad filled with spindly riffs, a smooth reggae melody, and sparse hip-hop percussion—Sultana animatedly bobs back and forth while strumming her guitar, reacts to her finger triggering a beat on an MPC like she’s playing drums with her whole body, and contorts her face while singing, even clenching her eyes tight during the most intense vocal lines. In contrast to her dramatic physicality, the video’s casual setting and homemade ambience (there’s even a dog that occasionally makes an appearance) give it an unexpected charm and shed light on the intimacy and authenticity Sultana lends to her craft. Her Thalia Hall performance comes a year and change since she uploaded “Jungle” to YouTube and released her debut EP, Notion (which was rereleased by indie juggernaut Mom & Pop in the States earlier this year). The EP’s delicate, slow-building title track shows her gift for setting a mood you can feel even more acutely when your eyes are closed.   v

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