“Good morning, it’s now tomorrow,” Matt Maltese intoned, his salubrious lilt greeting exuberant San Francisco fans the evening of March 19. The eccentric twists and turns of the eponymous album, released late last year, were a perfect match for the cozy, whimsical Bottom of the Hill stage, where the show’s minimal lighting was offset by ornate lanterns and fairy lights strung about the room.
The South London singer maintained an easy banter with his audience all night; his charisma and charm paired with the gentle lull of his voice captured hearts left and right. Smiling modestly and murmuring “thank you” after each song, Maltese perfectly balanced assuming humble gratitude and reveling in flattery. Like an indie Harry Styles, Maltese was met with nothing short of adoration from his fans. Grinning coyly, he accepted a fan’s bouquet with tactful appreciation, expressing sweetly, “These flowers are ridiculous, they’re so nice!”
Keeping in theme with the apocalyptic message that propelled him to widespread fame, Maltese’s song “Good Morning” opened the show with lyrics that detailed the world falling apart. However, instead of sounding sardonic or cynical, Maltese managed to imbue his words with a somber kind of hope that worked unexpectedly well with the song’s airy, bouncing tune.
His haunting melodies, such as “Curl Up and Die” and “Less and Less” were backed by elaborate piano riffs and atmospheric reverb effects, creating some of the most memorable, poignant moments of the night. Plucking notes and heartstrings alike, Maltese’s voice furnished the dimly lit room with a rich fullness, allowing his exquisitely crafted lyrics to flow into each other without pausing for breath.
While the cozily cramped stage left little to no room for movement, Maltese proved that artists don’t have to pull out all the bells and whistles to capture an audience’s affection. Although his stage presence was physically confined to a piano bench, his talent and cheeky wit more than made up for the small space, and were even refined by the venue’s charm. Maltese had everyone wrapped around his fingers as he expertly plucked the piano keys.
Instead of relying on flashy effects to carry the show, Maltese’s dry humor and jovial attitude acted as a vibrant and entertaining backdrop for his artistry. He was able to find humor even in his haters; made even more amusing by Maltese’s British accent pleasantly shaping the vowels, he quoted a recent tweet about him that he’d stumbled across, which read, “Saw this boy play recently, and hated his daft comments and humor. Should’ve stayed at the pub.”
“F— that guy!” an impassioned audience member yelled.
“Oh give Chris a break,” Maltese joked back. “He just wants to go to the pub!”
Maltese was joined during his song “Oldest Trick in the Book” by his opener, Girlpuppy. Dressed in black and swaying gently in time with the song’s careful beat, her blonde shag an angelic halo, the 22-year-old indie singer made for Maltese’s perfect pair — her soft sweet voice resonated pleasantly alongside his deep timbre.
Maltese closed the show under dark, rose-colored lights, with his mournful 2017 hit “As the World Caves In.” Originally penned in jest, the song conceives a fictional, satirical romance between former U.K. Prime minister Theresa May, and former U.S. President Donald Trump. However, after achieving major success on TikTok nearly four years after its release, Maltese retracted his explanation surrounding the song’s origin in a tweet: “its not about them any!more!”
Despite the flippancy behind its inspiration, “As the World Caves In” is undeniably a masterpiece, and it rang true during his performance, where his smooth vocals carved through the small space with sharpened skill.
Bidding goodbye to his devoted fans, Maltese sang, “I weep and say ‘Goodnight, love’/ While my organs pack it in.” In true Matt Maltese fashion, the singer somehow managed to make a lyric about organ failure sound poetic and enchanting, painting a cataclysmic doomsday that fiercely juxtaposed his mellow, magnetic charisma. As Maltese soulfully mourned the looming destruction of the world, his fans bade him goodnight and withdrew into the bracing night air.