Part 2: Ethel Cain, You Owe Me a Kidney Now!

This post is part 1 of 2 in the series:
Ethel Cain

Two fateful weeks ago, I took the time to write an article that I’ve been dying to write for at least six months, all about the one and only Ethel Cain. In anticipation of her concert later that week, I eagerly info dumped every bit of knowledge I’ve collected on the subject, and gleefully plastered my blatant adoration and borderline obsession on the front page of my blog, for all to see. I took you through the meaning behind the message; the story behind the songs, if you will. I was beyond looking forward to the show. I was so eager, I could have pissed myself. But I didn’t, and now here we are. Strap in and consider this a very earnest part two.

A prelude, about Vivid

Every year, Sydney hosts a spectacular arts & lights festival called Vivid. If you live in Sydney, or really anywhere in NSW, you already know all about this. It’s awesome, don’t get me wrong. But it’s BUSY! And wrestling with an estimated city crowd of 2 million visitors is oddly non-conducive when trying to make a B-Line to the opera house on one fine Saturday night. Especially when the train won’t take you straight to Circular Quay. And especially when you and your mates have had a few drinks and don’t entirely know where you’re going.

Admittedly, we didn’t leave for the concert early enough, and we were fighting for time, arriving at the doors a few minutes after they closed for the show. After a very impressive sprint to get there and a very helpful security guard that pointed us in the direction of the exact theatre the show was in, we got there. Luckily, the security at the door understood the severity and desperation of the situation. They let us in and got us seated quickly. I was absolutely squealing inside to find that we’d snagged seats so close to the stage, about 4 rows back,

Video: Ethel Cain, Sydney Opera House 2023

So, how was the show?

Anyway, there’s no opener. Ethel Cain is right there in front of us, and begins performing Strangers, the closer of Preacher’s Daughter, first up. I was really looking forward to hearing this song, and it was beyond beautiful live. She’s got a stellar voice; if I wasn’t still buzzing from the adrenaline of our run to get there, I would have cried immediately.

She then tentatively told us we could stand up for the next one. She performed her hit single American Teenager – you know, the one Obama likes. It’s her most upbeat song, and even then, it’s fairly paced. My housemate had reminded me of this the week prior when I had proclaimed “I wish it weren’t seated”. I pondered the mosh-ability of a show like Ethel Cain and assumed it would be rather like Youth Group. Update: it was.

She then began singing A House In Nebraska. She did not finish singing A House In Nebraska.

Spotify: For the ambience

I thought it was a Bit!

Around half way through A House In Nebraska, Ethel Cain collapsed on stage. She’d put her hand to her face a few moments beforehand, but I’d assumed that was just because it’s an emotional part in the song. Also, sometimes Phoebe Bridgers lays down mid-show. I just thought it was a bit like that for a second.

The news reports said that the drummer and guitarist walked her off stage. This is fake news. They excavated her limp body from centre stage and placed somewhere behind the curtains. Given the themes of her album, I thought faking her death mid-song could have well been a creative choice and not a deeply disappointing medical affair. Weird to hold an intermission 2 songs in, but I trusted her vision. Surely this is a joke, I thought. It was not a joke.

Shortly after this happened, the Opera House staff announced over the PA that the situation was being investigated and asked us to stay seated. They said the show would commence with some time. About 10 minutes later, they said the same thing. And then, as all bad news comes in threes, they told us “tonight’s show will not go ahead, please exit the theatre”.

We got out before 9pm; I think. It’s worth mentioning here that I’d been putting off going to the bathroom for quite some time during this mayhem. Which brings me to my next subheading.

Ethel Cain, you owe me a bottle of cranberry juice.

I wound up with a UTI following this event. To be fair, I’ve been rather run down lately and I don’t have the most fabulous immune system as is, so it was bound to happen. It didn’t help that I knowingly refused to go to the bathroom for hours between getting on the train in the morning and the cancellation of the concert. I didn’t think of it as a particularly big deal, and figured it would pass in a few days, as is well that ends well. But well, that didn’t end well.

Ethel Cain, what’s your blood type? You owe me a kidney now.

After a bit of exploration the next day, and a dead phone on the train, I got back home. I told my housemate about witnessing the death of Ethel Cain. I needed to believe in my mind that she had passed, or else the seething jealousy of knowing that people we going to see her show the next night would eat me alive. I was hoping she wouldn’t play the next night, selfishly. But she did. I had to stay off TikTok and momentarily block Ethel on Spotify.

Anyway, I got back home on the Sunday, went to work on the Monday, and then came home and did some collage with my housemate – both as a way of achieving equilibrium after my big heartache, and to get a video or two to finish one of my university assignments. I was ready to hunker down and mope that night, but God had other plans.

I was in the shower when I thought “oh damn, that stomach ache is annoying” – half an hour later I was vomiting in pain, on our front lawn on the way to the car to go to the hospital. It was the worst pain of my life, by far. I thought I was going to pass out, or die, or something. But I didn’t – I just cried and wailed and writhed around and threw up before any pain killers could start digesting. We were at the hospital until 3.30am.

They took forever and a day to do my blood and urine tests, and determine whether it was my appendix. I walked in saying that I had a kidney infection – and if they’d listened to me, I could have been on my merry way, antibiotics in hand and painkillers in the system. But instead they asked me if I was on my period 6 times and let me suffer until the pain subsided. I understand that sometimes that’s just how hospitals have to operate, but it didn’t make it any less sucky. I eventually got my antibiotics, went home to bed, and stayed there for a few days. It’s insane how quickly a little UTI can turn into the 8th circle of hell.


I somehow got all of my assignments in last week, marking the end of my university semester. They were a bit late, but I already had some extensions approved, and I’ve got a doctor’s note, so I’m sure it’s fine. I’d love to go out for a celebratory drink or something, but I’m still on antibiotics, and I’m still feeling extremely run down, so I’ll save it until I feel better. It’s just insane that two weeks ago, when I wrote that first Ethel Cain run down, I thought the part two would look VERY different. Alas, here we are.