Show Review: Molly Drag & Past Life at Pressed Cafe 24/7/18
Offstage, Micheal Charles Hansford is a whirlwind of a human being; totally effervescent and bright. However, the music he creates under his alias, Molly Drag, is entirely the opposite and caught me off-guard when I promoted his show at Pressed in Ottawa on July 24, 2018.
Now based in Montreal, Michael has been releasing music under the name Molly Drag since 2014. This summer, he is on tour with Past Life, an energetic pop-punk band from Philadelphia, promoting his soon-to-be-released fourth full-length album, Thumper.
While I waited for Micheal at the venue, I was overcome with anxiety. It was a Tuesday night and it was pouring rain, and I didn't think there would be much of a turnout. To my surprise, the venue filled up with folks cozied up, shoulder to shoulder, giving Michael their undivided attention during his set.
Something about Micheal’s music is so sweet despite being incredibly sorrowful at the same time. There is a sincerity in his singing voice that inspires an almost nostalgic feeling. You get the impression that you’ve had his songs playing in your head for years, but can’t remember where you first heard them. Looking around the room, I could tell that folks in the audience were engaged with the sense of familiarity conjured by Micheal’s hushed melodies and shimmering guitar. There was a sense of trust that washed over the room, and I realized that the audience seemed to feel just as vulnerable as Michael.
Before Michael’s set, mutual friends and I joked that we would probably let out a good cry at some point during the night. I won’t lie, tears were shed on my part. I think I was overcome with emotion watching Michael because his lyrics are so intimate. Listening to him pour his heart out reminded me of a common childhood experience where you confess a deep dark secret reserved for your diary pages to a best friend. It was powerful to see how Micheal’s intimate performance provided a safe space for everyone to reach out to each other during a moment of catharsis, that felt both personal and relatable at the same time. I don’t know how he builds up enough bravery to do it again and again in such a humble way.
When asked what pink means to him, Michael told Pink Things that, “The color pink makes me feel comfortable. Without conforming to any label or feeling I feel stuck into. It makes me feel free to express my natural and true self.”
According to Past Life, “Pink is 2 Chainz' trap house. Pink adidas are the cusp of Springtime. Pink is the color you wear to see if old people will judge you, and then you smile at them. Pink is Julie’s nails, Pink is bubblegum flavored paint all over your walls and ceilings. In the midst of a summer haze soaking through windows intermingled with mother’s cooking, or the neighbors mother’s cooking, pink is the color of the flowers that your one friend likes. It’s rarely seen in dreams, but often seen in Disney movies. Tricky as Bugs Bunny, but honest as J.H. in middle school. Pink is friendly and never foe.”
Micheal has just finished his United States on tour with Past Life. If you have the chance to see him and his band live, do it. Bring a friend, or just go by yourself. Something about Micheal’s music makes you feel like you’re not alone.