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SLIP DOWN THE ALLEYWAY // CHRIS GOES TO LANEWAY

Monday, February 21st, 2011 by Chris

Laneway Festival

St Jerome’s Laneway Festival
Cultural Centre, Northbridge.
12/2/2011

By Chris Wheeldon

The Big Day Out one weekend, Laneway the next, never a dull moment in Perth. The difference between the two festivals is mammoth not only in punters but also in bands and the mentality of the day.

Laneway is a hipster and wannabe hipster’s paradise. A place where indie kids can shrug shoulders with original indie kids, a place where the day counts but it seems the music is much more important.

Set in the wonderful surrounds of the Cultural Centre, Fringe World glistened in the sunshine and the newly renovated urban garden created the perfect backdrop.

After finishing a quick stint on radio and dodging my way through the bike race taking place through Northbridge I walked in to catch the end of The Antlers. A band that recorded are a cavalcade of sounds and melodies, live they struggled to convey the complexity of their recordings.

Violent Soho, over on The PICA stage however had no sense of complexity. Instead they were straight up ballsy rock and roll. Harking back to the sound of Nirvana and Magic Dirt, this Brisbane band leave little room for your ears to recover and it was only 4pm.

Over on the Frances Street stage there seemed to be a bottle neck as people clambered for shade and to get a sight of the wonderful women of Warpaint. Brooklyn in a nutshell, this four-piece sound checked away lulling people into the belief the show had started. When it did the swelling crowd were treated to a tribal, bass filled set of songs that echoed through the afternoon air.

Dashing off to check Menomena I was surprised at the small size of the crowd. One of last year’s finest albums should have indicated higher interest but the extra space was wonderful. They set about a well-crafted and extremely enjoyable forty-minute set. Musicians in every sense this five piece dance about instruments and sounds that bellow from their arrangements.

I set in for a couple of hours at the PICA stage as the sun began to set. PVT began their final show of a very long tour in true form. This was a show form the Sydney boys that they had clearly been looking forward to. Their energy, passion and talent oozed from the stage and into the hearts of a growing crowd.

Blonde Redhead boasted the most impressive resume of all the bands on Laneway this year and their set showed their pedigree. Decked out in white the New York natives created a wall of sound that filled the amphitheatre, bouncing back off the library glass. Standing in that wall of sound is the best way to listen to Blonde Redhead, their music and melodies grip you and envelope you as they dance around on stage.

Les Savy Fav leave nothing on stage when they play. Word spreads quickly when things get crazy. It took Les Savy Fav half a song before singer Tim Harrington was off. He dived into the crowd and managed through forty minutes to see every inch of his audience. Technically the show suffered a little but this band put a smile on your face that goes nowhere until they leave.

Elsewhere, Arial Pink’s Haunted Graffiti played to a massive crowd treating them to, not just a musical feast but a show, costumes and lights and dancing. Glam is not dead.

Holy Fuck took off on the PICA stage. Their intricately woven sounds show a complexity that most mathematicians would struggle with. This was one of those shows that to really enjoy you had to be involved. This is not a band that will engage you with witty banter but instead tear your head off with electronic music that you may never hear unless Holy Fuck were in front of you.

Deerhunter finished my evening with their treble filled aural explosion. Catching the last few tracks of their set they seemed a little washed out and at times their drummer battled with timing. Bradford Cox owned the stage even if he struggled to think of ‘anything cool to say’. However it seem that they may have played one too many shows in recent times, they seemed tired and little ready to head back home.

As the hipsters and crew headed off into the night, perhaps to forget they were hipsters and revert back to their bogan credentials, the indie fest that is Laneway provided an oasis for the festival going audience. It’s interesting how successful music festivals can be when they concentrate providing good music.

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MIDLAKE //

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010 by Chris

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WHAT: Midlake withBig Scary
WHERE: Capitol, Perth.
WHEN: 4/8/10

Wednesday evening in Perth and it seemed the older more distinguished lovers of music headed out to catch Texan band Midlake.

Opening act Big Scary are a two-piece from Melbourne that create quite lovely, temperamental and heavenly music. Their wonderful thirty-minute set was appropriately punctuated by their new single, Autumn: A driving drum beat; melodic keys and harmonies are always a winner.

Midlake make music in much the same ilk as older American songwriting bands. There are no driving rhythms; no high climaxes and little in ways of sing alongs. What they do do is make quite complicated, melody based and structured tracks that translate so well from record to live it’s a little scary.

With seven musicians on stage the initial sound was a little too much, but as their second track, “Children of The Grounds” bellowed through the room, things were ok. “Young Bride” and “Van Occupanther” from The Trials of Van Occupanther were true highlights. As they continued through their set you could close you’re eyes and be transported to the hills of Vermont, hiking through the mountains.

There was something natural about their show, something organic about musicians being musicians. They is no gimmick with this band and their talent is truly immense so a gimmick is in no way needed.

Fan favorite “Roscoe” was perfectly introduced by a truly amazing instrumental piece. They finished their set with the sentimental “Head Home” before popping back on for a few tracks, finishing it all up with Branches.

Midlake are a band of the highest order,seeing them live I have now ticked it off the Musical To-do list.

©Chris Wheeldon. 9/8/10

©Photos Gemma Pike. 2010

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ON THE BRIGHT SIDE //

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 by Chris

On The Bright SideWHAT: On The Bright Side

WHERE: Esplanade, Perth

WHEN: 24/07/10

The iTunes generation was out and about, as On The Bright Side took over the Esplanade with a day of fun, music and the band that changed the decade.

Opening acts, The Middle East and Bluejuice may have been missed by many, as the line to collect tickets was rather large. I missed them because it was Saturday morning.

Hot Chip played a short but interesting set. This is a band that has been around awhile and they play their fun time party tracks with a lot of professionalism. Crowd favorites, Over and Over and Hold On echoed within the single tent stage to an appreciative and growing crowd; a crowd that knew the singles and ran to hear them when those singles dropped. On the down side five songs is not much of a set from a well-respected international band.

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From professional and talented, to completely woeful and pointless; Art vs. Science. A fifty-minute set which had not one single redeeming quality. They make music by numbers, everything seemed contrived and by the book looking for a set reaction by a crowd that unfortunately lapped it up. They have energy but energy doesn’t write you a decent song. They rely on stupid and aimless clichés, basic chord progression and the same drumbeat in every song. If you were fifteen and had copious amounts of chemicals in your blood you may have enjoyed it, if you’re not I hope you walked away.

Thankfully Band Of Horses are one of those true American bands, in the vain of The Traveling Wilburys and The Band. Standing before a crowd looking to party, they produced a set that drew the energy level down but in no way let down the crowd. Band Of Horses 1

Older favorites, There’s A Ghost, No Ones Gonna Love You and Ode To LRC, along side newer tracks Loredo and Factory were highlights. This band writes songs not to impress but to entertain and enlighten.

Considered by some as Australia’s answer to the great American band Angus and Julia Stone stepped up next. Full of innocence and true talent, the siblings played a subtle almost subdued set. Big Train and the slowed down You’re The One That I Want brought the crowd to them but they seemingly struggled to maintain a level of energy and intrigue perhaps needed at the later time slot.

Every now and again a band comes along who garner a hell of a lot of success off one or two singles. Mumford and Sons are that type of band. Of course they played the song, the fucked it up song and the other one, The Cave and the crowd enjoyed every single moment, dancing like they had never heard it before. That is the beauty of this band, they know how to arrange a song to get people moving and singing and they play those songs very, very well on stage. Mumford & Sons 5

It was some of the quieter moments incorporating a brass section and strings that really made this set. Dust Bowl Dance is a beautiful song and hearing it belted out within a packed festival tent was something even a cynical music snob could enjoy.

To The Strokes and a return to 2001. From the onset this Manhattan garage band played the songs that the ten thousand strong audience wanted to hear: New York City Cops, Hard To Explain, The Modern Age, Is This It and the quite brilliant Someday.

The Strokes were all there and they were all played with absolute perfection. Finishing off with Last Night before returning for a quick fire encore, saying goodbye with Take It Or Leave It. You could argue that they were half an hour short for their allotted time, but they are a garage rock band who play three minutes songs, an hour of dam good music was more then enough. The Strokes 7

©Chris Wheeldon. 24th July 2010.

Click on an image to see full size. All images by Nicole Norelli

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SUGAR ARMY // LIVE AT AMPLIFIER

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 by Chris

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WHAT: SUGAR ARMY. With Young Revelry and Emperors

WHERE: Amplifier Bar, Perth

WHEN: 3/07/10

It’s July and it’s cold but Sugar Army are keeping everything under control as they head around Perth on their In Control Tour. The third of four dates brought them and an irrepressible crowd to the Amplifier bar.

Support heroes, Emperors began the eve. Every time these guys play they seem to get better. Their songs have moved from mundane and bland to well crafted and with even better execution.

New single, The River and a reworked version of Favorite Colours were highlights from quite a delightful set that perhaps moved this band from OK to, dare a say it, a band to watch.

Young Revelry jumped up on stage for the second support slot. Starting off with a flurry of noise, distortion and heaviness, hopes were high for a band I had yet to see.

However as they settled down into their set my hopes faded. Young Revelry are in no way a bad band, but for me they were bland, repetitive and for the most part devoid of any real sense of self.

So to everyone’s favorite tasty treat: Sugar Army. From the outset it was clear that Sugars are well rehearsed, experienced and a downright good band. They played a fine set of new songs, in-between older tracks. Sugar Army gave the Saturday night crowd quite a treat.

They way they are able to weave tracks together is, in part, down to the hard work they put in the rehearsal rooms but more so due to the comfort they have with each other on stage.

Greed is Good, Where Do You Hide Your Toys? and new track In Control soared throughout the small room and the crowd were loving it. It was good to see an Amplifier crowd interested and involved in the live music they were witnessing.

Finishing with Acute and crowd favorite Tongues In Cheeks were a measure of how in tune Sugars were on this eve. With new tracks on the way, new recordings and further shows, the Army marches on.

©Chris Wheeldon. 5th July 2010.

Photos by Lisa Businovski Click any picture to see it full size!

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WAMI // SATURDAY SPECTACULAR CLOSING PARTY

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010 by Chris

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WHAT: WAMI Saturday Spectacular Closing Party

WHERE: Amplifier and Capital

WHEN: May 22

After a day exploring Northbridge, checking out all things WAM, it was time to finish off the eve at Amplifier and Capital and close out this Spectacular.

Playing early to an already bumper crowd, three piece The Jackards belted out some ball churning, heart pumping and down right excellent rock and roll tunes. Not much of what they do is original but they have a knack for guitar driven hooks and groove-laden drums.

Most promising new act Emperors hit the Amplifier stage next, with a new drummer in tow. Its fairly basic guitar based indie pop here, but when done well it doesn’t really matter, Emperors do it well and they let the audience know it.

Abbe May had to pull out of her show due to an injury to a band member, which brought Arts Martial to the Capital stage a bit later than scheduled. With this band there was a definite pattern emerging for this gig. Arts Martial, of all the bands on this gig were the least original and the least accomplished but this is not to say they are bad. They will make a name for themselves on the national stage as their music is perfect for a mass market. If you’re a member of this market, enjoy: If not – avoid.

In complete contrast, Injured Ninja take a sonic katana to your eardrums and then slice your body to pieces as you drop to the ground. They have stripped back their sound a little to produce a fury of noise and bass lines that if you are passing by sounds like chaos but if you stop and listen it all blissfully comes together, like a jigsaw of a kaleidoscope. They clearly impressed some of the WAMI Business Conference delegates which left me wondering if Perth may just have produced a successful band that does not write easy pop songs.

Back on the Capital stage, RTR FM darlings Umpire jumped up and began. The wonderfully crafted “Vapors Wrecked Your Knives” and “Streamers” were highlights of a well-devised set. If you are sitting on the fence with this band go and see them live, you’ll quickly jump down on their side.

Will Stoker and The Embers blasted out their set in the smaller room. Finding something truly original here is tough but finding talent is not. Musically this band is highly accomplished and Will Stoker is a charismatic and entertaining front man. The problem comes from the fact that his music is not enticing enough for his charm to come across as charming.

As a product of the nineties Jebediah, are reluctant heroes to many in the current Perth scene. They played a collection of new, soon to be released tracks and older fan favourites that produced the only crowd surfing seen for a long time. “Jerks of Attention”, “Puck Defender”, “Please Leave” and “Fall Down” spread smiles all around.

Jebediah looked really relaxed on stage as though they were playing these older songs for perhaps the last time. With a new record on the way it may be the case that the Jebediah of the late nineties early naughties are done.

Scotch of Saint James, Tomas Ford and French Rockets played wonderful, exciting sets with the Rockets light show taking another step forward but for this day I feel it was fitting to end with Jebediah.

The power and the popularity of West Australian music was truly on show; if only we had the audience to sustain it all year round. For all those who attended and all those who lined up to attend, WAMI showed us how good Perth music can be, go out and see it, go out and support it.

©Chris Wheeldon. 23rd May 2010.

©Photos Gemma Pike. 2010

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SATURDAY SPECTACULAR // WAMi 2010

Monday, May 24th, 2010 by Chris

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WHAT: City of Perth Northbridge WAMI Saturday Spectacular

WHERE: All over Northbridge

WHEN: May 22

It’s not often Western Australian music is the most important thing in Perth. This past Saturday, Northbridge became the centre of the scene as fifty acts did their thing across nine venues for the City of Perth Northbridge Saturday Spectacular. My story covers fourteen bands, seven venues, soggy jeans and one hell of a showcase for this big little city.

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WAMI AWARDS // GLAMOUR AND CAKE

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010 by Chris

WAMi2010WHAT: WAMI AWARDS 2010

WHERE: Capitol, Perth

WHEN: May 20

EXTRAS: Thursday Night’s Winners and Craft Award Winners

Awards mean little, but recognition means a great deal and for many the WAMI Awards is that recognition of all things original and local, oh and some bands played and some people from other countries and states popped over.

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SCHVENDES // A SHADE OF GREY

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010 by Chris

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Long considered Perth finest purveyors of morbid, macabre and stirring musical expanses, Schvendes are far removed from their own stereotype. Launching their new split single, Shades of Grey/ Lay The Noose at the Rosemount, the five-piece are a marvel to the scene they call home.

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A DAY IN THE PINES //

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 by Chris

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It is funny how one day can mean so much to so many people. For many within the West Australian music scene and those that are fans of all things West Australian music, RTR’s annual twenty-band extravaganza; In The Pines is such a day. Being a presenter on RTR it is an unwritten rule that you help out during In The Pines, being a responsible server of alcohol I headed behind that bar after I caught the opening acts. Here’s my day out In the Pines…

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