It’s a perfect day as I arrive in Northbridge: Perth’s patented blue mega-‐dome, warm white-‐gold sun, a gentle autumn nip tickling your more exposed body parts. And as we weave around corners and along Lake Street we lap up the scenes and the gentle hum, arriving soon in that storied carpark fringed by a great steel slater to one side (Metro City) and crusty red shipping containers to the other. This is, of course, The Bakery and although it’s not yet past noon, a queue has already grown outside the ticket booth. We are here for the actual and unequivocal Last Hurrah, the Encore without Encore, the Big Bow, and the popular majestic finality of it all is what finds us in an orderly line rather than rocking up whenever, at our leisure. And yet still, if I’m honest, the reality of that finality still hasn’t seeped through the superficial layers of my brain and into my settled understandings. My subconscious, I think, still suspects the Bakery will linger forever, just as a child lays out milk and cookies in vain denial of Santa’s increasingly evident fallaciousness.
Santa notwithstanding, I soon get the chance to bask in the ever-‐surprising wonder of RABBIT ISLAND, that snow globe of all-‐natural magic helmed by local exemplary human Amber Fresh. The set consists of only a handful of songs – four or five at most – but it breathes and expands and glimmers with the panoramic scope of a planetarium, filling up your pores with the hushed resonance of Fresh’s voice and the artisan details of accomplices Ben Witt and Sam Maher. I sip a cheap Tecate beer can housed in a souvenir Bakery stubbie-‐holder that promises to allow me cheap beers for the brief remainder of the Bakery’s life, which is nice.
Today is a day that myself and R had agreed upon to practice our own music, so we now depart the cherished venue and leave the following pages intentionally blank, and as such you will have to ask someone else if you want an account of the afternoon’s general proceedings. As for us, we return at the rough blonde tail-‐end of the SABRETOOTH TIGERS’ set, and settle in for the ensuing evening’s diversions.
Thus arrives FELICITY GROOM, whom I wrote about only last week regarding her appearance at The Bird, but tonight is full-‐band mode again and as such quite a different experience. I want to say, honestly, that I rather feel that Groom’s last LP ‘Hungry Sky’ remains underrated and that I’d yet to witness a crowd respond to its material with the visceral exuberance it deserves: in this way tonight is a charm and a relief, as hoards gather around the fabled stage and sway and sing and clap and whirl with all the unassuming gusto of a village tavern hearing its most beloved regional folk anthem. Felicity Groom is one of our town’s most enduring talents, having now spanned the spectrum from acoustic minutiae to galactic euphoria-‐pop and back again in time for lunch, and as she sagaciously suggests, “Bakery vibes will live on,” not least because acts such as hers will sustain them. The backdrop of Steven Summerlin on bass and auxiliary synth, Andrew Ryan on guitar and drums, and Mike Jelinek on drums and guitar, is robust and compelling, if occasionally a notch too “clever” for its own good. Indeed, the most streamlined arrangements seem to fly most majestically – a real-‐time exemplar of the power of simplicity – which is not to say that the more ornate, adventurous and diversified orchestrations don’t have their own intriguing and remarkable appeal.
FAIT emerge like indie-‐rock turtles from the vast cosmic ocean, and proceed to shoot their crystalline guitar-‐based compositions into the healthy pocket of air above the vibrating crowd. Frankly, to this writer’s ears, the tunes are only inoffensive insofar as they are forgettable, and only as palatable as they are uninspired. At this point –speaking as a newcomer to the band – I can’t see any reason to listen to Fait as opposed to the myriad of pan-‐rock indie guitar bands long since laid to waste in the bowels of my iTunes, but I do meanwhile have some faith in the intentions and visions of the members of this band with pedigrees I trust, and perhaps I’m missing something in this cursory listen. All I’m saying is that I’m still in the “to-‐be-‐convinced” pile of casual spectators and, under the circumstances, I gravitate towards the smoky throb of the dancefloor down the crimson velveteen aisle, wherein CRAIG HOLLYWOOD is set upon massaging our collective skin with potent disco-‐funk therapy.
Now back in the big room SEX PANTHER are readying their high-‐octane rockmusik, and wow what a wild moment this is. Not only have the much-‐loved Sex Panther been out of action for a number of years, they were also the first band I ever saw perform at the Bakery (ok, the first band I actually saw perform at the Bakery was “The Maccaburettors” but I only saw a couple of their songs and Sex Panther swiftly followed with an immensely more memorable show). In other words, it’s a wonderful and poetic and characteristically carefree/raucous bookend to my Bakery experience, one that’s spanned nine or ten years. Whatever spun the Sex Panther clan into hibernation/disbandment has not hindered the thrill of their return: they sound as propulsive and raw and yet deftly nuanced as ever, with Storm’s vocals warbling superbly overhead. Truly a classic, invigorating band. I see my Perth compatriots boogieing and, just as we have all together but separately ridden the troughs and peaks of the intervening years, so too do we altogether rejoice in those nostalgic yet immediate chords that zap their way through “Cuntstruck” and the ilk.
Now, back when the melodic yet no-‐nonsense joy-‐punk of Sex Panther was piquing the interest of the MySpace generation, so too was a sort of brash and complex post-‐punk reinvention bracing the town, and perhaps no-‐one from that whirlpool of creativity has stood the test of time so well as THE WEDNESDAY SOCIETY. The band makes a rare appearance tonight, and their erratic, neurotic freak jams are still as bracing as ever: perhaps even more so given the sound’s since-‐dwindled commonality. Employing barked political diatribes, jousting guitar lines (a la a souped-‐up Television/Gang of Four), intricate and volatile yet grooving drums parts and uncanny electronic ejaculations, their impact remains intense, their aesthetic singular and compelling. While bands typically disappear for personal reasons – be they creative or social – there is often assumed a sense in which the act has exhausted its potential. Not so, I feel, with the Wednesday Society who are still utterly thrilling to witness, who glow with a vigour and imagination that seems to belong more to the future than the past.
FRENCH ROCKETS eventually grind into gear, and provide a surprise: I’m used to their sets consisting of essentially a single motorik jam or a few basic grooves over which a psychedelic wall of sound is produced, but tonight there is something more structured and considered and diverse about their approach – which is not to say it’s intrinsically better, but it’s nice to be kept guessing from one show to the next. Here we encounter varied arrangements of heavy and sparse riffs, Spacemen 3-‐ish swirling strum storms and lilting proto-‐psych meditations. It’s a sweet, hallucinatory kind of send-‐off.
And the night rolls on into THE WEAPON IS SOUND with their dub attack and THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH drumming extravaganza presented by Injured Ninja, and Steve Hughes swings off the rafters as the proverbial curtain comes down at last, though I must admit that by then I’ve vanished into the night, swept away by the descending curtains of my own eyelids. Back out in the carpark I feel a pang of sadness as I make that journey away from the shipping container kingdom one last time; no more will my eyes slide over its motley walls, its dream-‐like mash of disco balls, astro-‐turf, driftwood and concrete and black interior, the buzzing congregations of smokers and socialites down past the steps, the endlessly reconfiguring crowd before the stage, the excellent, pony-‐tailed Luke behind the sound desk and the familiar smiling faces behind the bar. It wasn’t until Sex Panther played, and the strange symmetry of my years coming here was manifested, that I began to really feel the impending end of the Bakery, and I probably won’t really appreciate its absence until a few weekends of wondering what’s happening, and not having this faithful staple to glide into. But the time is for fond remembrance, not despair, and as Felicity Groom said tonight, the spirit of the place will live on once the walls have fallen. So I raise a glass to the cavernous, humble, strange and bountiful Bakery, and like a Swedish pop star I thank you for the music. Until we meet again, by some other name, in some other shape, on some other block, to foster the magic of some future haunt -‐ with a fresh reel of memories to be wrought.
Photos by Daniel Grant