(It’s not mailout week- but who cares?)
Many things turn a quarter of a century in twenty-eighteen. In The Pines is one of them. With a line up that consists of both newcomers and veterans alike under the familiar pine forest (and a very welcome shade from the sweltering sun). In The Pines has been a launching pad for many home-grown acts that go on to be successful elsewhere, and Sunday was a celebration of that merry fact.
The welcome to country was performed by Phil Walley Stack, in Noongar and then simultaneously translated into English. The didgeridoo and the strangely florid dulcet of the Noongar tongue was on show.
To open the proceedings proper up-and-comers Treehouses (and the Somerville Auditorium is entirely in their natural habitat) serenaded the early few who had set up camp. Their blend of emo, folk and spoken word somehow works a lot better what that idea might have sounded like. They were then followed by The Pipeline Band, the only band in the lineup to deliver rousing true blue country rock in both English and Noongar. Terrible Signal, a unit made out of the members of other bands (one from Hideous Sun Demon and Maddie Blue from lord knows how many other outfits) came on after, delivering the coastal chill pop that the West Coast handily produces all the time, they definitely weren’t terrible.
From then on its all back to back late night dive vibe and 80s throwbacks with Grievous Bodily Calm and Demon Days, the former all blaring with lo-fi nu-jazz that I can imagine forming the background soundtrack to a session of Sim City or perhaps Gran Turismo (the racing simulator), and the latter opting for some r & b inspired vocals. The humble saxophone was the honorary man of the hour for both sets.
Boltgun are a band worthy of its name (which may or may not be a reference to the iconic weapon of the Space Marines of Warhammer 40,000 fame)- with a loud, relentless post-rock reminiscent of a much rawer Mogwai or Explosions in the Sky, add plenty of droning and screaming. Then Em Burrows and The Web Rumours took us all back on a journey through the ages (to use the words of MC of the day, Caitlin Nienaber), with retro-inspired synth sound and girl-power lyrics. Thee Loose Hounds took us all back to the earth with a crowd going loose to loud old-school anthems.
Lucy Peach, in a gold and recently washed jumpsuit, according to the artist herself, brought her soulful vocals and melodies to full throttle, and one of her songs brought up the topic of pre-menstrual syndrome (recently she had been performing My Greatest Period Ever across both the Perth and Adelaide Fringe Festivals).
Furchick were the most unusual act of the lineup, featuring an ensemble of unconventional, DIY instruments- an improvised wooden plave, cups and springs, and a footsie table, led by the sound scientist known as Claire ‘Furchick’ Pannell. Everyone listened to the set, appreciating the experiment and with a kind of curiosity as to what could happen next.
The late afternoons was all about the bands of yesteryear returning on stage to entertain a new generation as well as an old guard- the Tommyhawks, Umpire / Mukaizake (whose 30 minute set was split between two bands), Nervequakes then came on brought a very grimy, early 90s grunge sound. To continue the all-Western Australian time capsule as night fell- Mile End, and Sex Panthers performed their old hits to a new crowd. The highlight of Mile End’s performance was that the lead guitarist kept on playing, unfazed despite bleeding on all four fingers and having it splattered on the guitar- CPN’s very own Ellen tells me this is completely normal. (I am terrible with instruments- this fact was very clear at a young age)
Any opportunity to listen to the Kill Devil Hills should be taken- they’re always a highlight. They laid an undisputed claim to being the hairiest band on the day. The extremely masculine energy translates into some of the most haunting, poetic vocals on this side of the town. Kill Devil Hills is indeed music made for manly men.
As the night calls its curtains Mathas waltzes on stage- complete in bling rhinestone fashion. The locally born and bred rapper belted out his most well-known hits, including “White Sugar” (I remember this one the most given that I’ve lost a poetry slam contest to it), along with a backup vocal team consisting of the ever present, almost umbilically attached duo of Joni Hogan and Odette Mercy (I cannot recall seeing them not playing together).
Stella Donnelly, the latest starlet from our side of the pond on the back of a success over across the Atlantic, graced the stage all by her lonesome, and the audience merely listens in rapt attention, without the usual headbanging, whooping cheers, but just an awed silence. Stella’s attempts to interact with the audience resulted in many in the crowd laughing alongside her. She performed stripped back versions of Boys Will Be Boys, Mechanical Bull and Thrush Metal- the three singles that practically landed her on Pitchfork’s recommended list- to an appreciative and adoring crowd.
Abbe May, a veteran that has toured all across the nation, closed the night delivering her brand of punk rock that has entertained many west and east. Raw, melancholic and rousing at the same time are three words I’d use to describe any given set from Abbe May, and it was a good way to send off the crowd, and a fitting way to celebrate the end of In The Pines’ quarter of a century.
Words by Clayton Lin