LYNDON 'KIEFER SUTHERLAND' BLUE'S TWENTY-FOUR HOURS OF ROOMS, MOONS, GOOD PALS, TUNES - SATURDAY JUNE 2
MIDNIGHT – I’m dressed as a hyperactive used vessel salesman from an early ‘90s pirate-themed video game. The keg is running out. We slip indoors then back out again. We climb stone lions and wonder about our star signs. If I’m an Aries and I was born in the year of the sheep, do the two cancel each other out?
ONE – The crowd thins so we wander from that house to another, feeling the chill of winter’s first night through our thin coats. Someone starts singing the Kinks, and everyone joins in.
TWO – Jukebox, cheeseboard, orange vodka, smoke. Man, Ram Jam, what a ridiculous band.
THREE – The moon is big, the night is growing icier and hazier. We call a cab between yawns, it takes her twenty minutes to get the street name. We wave down a passing taxi instead.
FOUR —-> TEN – zzzZZZZZZ▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒ ☼
ELEVEN – I peel myself off the mattress, stumble down the hall, fling grinds in the French presse. Steam. Eggs on toast. Guitars in the car. The sky is neon blue, the sunlight is warm yellow.
NOON – We roll into Northbridge, its footpaths already teeming. There is a sense of promise in the air. Wedged between the incongruously Americano-style Mustang Bar and fried-pastry chain San Churro is the Northbridge Piazza, a beanbag strewn oasis for respite among the shops, restaurants and clubs.
THIRTEEN – We’ve narrowly missed THE AUTUMN ISLES but we absorb SIMON KELLY & THE BIG BAMBOO. Like bamboo, Kelly’s tunes and band are solid, but springy enough that I could quite happily make a chair from them. They do a kind of post-Graceland everyman’s afropop thing, inflected with agile reggae skanks, often erring towards indie-folk-roots on the rocks as well. Gotta give credit to Adam the sound guy, who (with a little help from the piazza PA) gets these guys sounding HUGE, huger than giant pandas.
FOURTEEN – We (SEAMS) do a set and manage to only totally stuff up one bit. People still seem to be smiling. THE BROW HORN ORCHESTRA descend on the piazza and do what they do best: separate countless buttocks from beanbags in favour of the connected legs’ hoofing it on the grass.
FIFTEEN – I take a stroll down James Street and truly, the experience is reminiscent of an inspirational montage from some hypothetical film about/set in Perth. There are lovely people who I know passing me by; there’s James Teague and fellow minstrels practising barbershop-style in an alleyway; there’s buskers playing home-made instruments and teenagers laughing. I return to the piazza in time to hear some of RUNNER, who are always reliably tight and mellifluous. Sometimes on hankers for more than tightness and mellifluousness, and at this point I do, so I felt the experience is slightly restless one even though I have nothing but love for this band. I just do occasionally wish they would do something weird, take the proverbial dog of unconventional song structure for a run, or add a dissonant chord or pokey out lyric. There’s something to be said for immersive blissout tunes, so maybe I’m looking for the wrong things in the wrong places, but I feel the odd curveball from Runner wouldn’t go astray.
SIXTEEN – I wander down to the Court to find my own father watching the end of MEZZANINE (“you can probably bin them,” is his own personal review). I encounter another friend, the Doc; the three of us partake in cold pints as BOYS BOYS BOYS partake in the tradition of synth-driven smile-pop, and today it sounds as exuberant as ever, but also nicely dirty around the edges. Doc and I trot back up James and encounter Pete, Drage and Tanaya who are sitting like lovable vagrants on the side of the road with guitars with broken strings and a chain. They start jamming out a tune and Tanaya strikes a nearby metal pillar with the chain, creating an awesome industrial snare. We join them in a cover of Iggy Pop’s “Now I Wanna Be Your Dog” and half the street joins in on the offbeat handclap. It’s one of my favourite moments of the day. We continue up to the piazza and catch some of the irrepressibly pristine James Teague band, whose commitment to intricately crafted freak-folk-via-Pet-Sounds arrangements (Wilson-esque in finesse and lushness if not in style) never ceases to impress; then into the Mustang Bar for the end of SUGARPUSS.
SEVENTEEN – There are some complaints about the sound in here, though SUGARPUSS’ tunes still boast a power and clarity. Because it is the Mustang Bar we buy some lagers and watch some sports. The Dockers need three goals in as many minutes to beat the Crows. No such luck. THE NOVOCAINES, one of Perth’s hardest-working rock bands, arrive and promptly do their thing: the crowd loves it, getting both “down” and “loose” to the “reckless sixties-infused rock and roll.” But for realises, the Novocaines have come a long way in recent times, sidestepping their influences somewhat to favour a sound more unique, less straightforward, more rough-hewn, heavy and melodic. I hope it’s a trajectory that continues.
EIGHTEEN – Doc and I meet a third pal and wander across the horseshoe, through the city to Fat Shan records, where merrymaking and ale-sipping and general malarkey is happening…
NINETEEN – … Then, before long, back to Northbridge – Bakery, WAMI awards, little queue, into the main room. I don’t think music should ever be competitive per se and I don’t especially mind who does and doesn’t get a cake but it is nice to see people get recognized for their efforts. Among the announcements that make me grin are DROWNING HORSE getting best Metal Act (one small step for a horse, one giant leap for dronekind), In The Pines getting best Music Event (local repping local repping local), and TANGLED THOUGHTS OF LEAVING and USURPER OF MODERN MEDICINE coming to a draw (seriously when does that ever happen?) for Experimental Act (maybe the decision was made this year to award the act with the most inexplicable phrase-length name – too close to call. Anyway, both awesome bands).
TWENTY – ABBE MAY, SPLIT SECOND (Sean Pollard, more precisely) and especially SAN CISCO totally clean up this year – and truly, why not, they’ve had an amazing run in the past 12 months. WAMI is generally about celebrating what’s been successful in its own right, rather than illuminating the underappreciated…
TWENTY-ONE – …John Butler does a little acoustic set, and Dom Mariani performs a bunch of his classic paisley pop numbers with an entirely adept and appropriate backing band in Hurricane Fighter Plane.
TWENTY-TWO – Twenty-two is pretty vague. I have lots of both silly, intriguing and pleasant conversations with people milling among the Bakery throng. Some dude keeps trying to play me the new Children Collide song on his iPhone but, seriously man, Children Collide are shit and we’re trying to discuss the finer points of of Flavor Flav’s “Flavor of Love” here.
TWENTY-THREE – I abandon the Bakery, not because of any bad vibes or lack of enthusiasm for acts yet to play, but for a change of pace and a chance to see a pal’s band launch an album, which is always a good thing to do. I wander back across the horseshoe to experience MAKE THEM SUFFER at Amplifier Bar. Personally I’ve come to believe that punk gigs and metal gigs are infinitely better than indie rock/pop shows – insofar as they are live, sensory experiences anyhow. People are so passionate about these types of music. They make it known with every kilojoule their body contains. It’s an almost ancient-seeming commitment to music, finding some sense of immense import and soul-affirming meaning within both the songs and the ritual through which they are performed. Make Them Suffer are, needless to say, fairly heavy, though rarely abrasive and always pretty clever. Their tunes are a fusion, I suppose, of death metal, black metal and metalcore, shifting gears between the tempi and blast beats of the first two, generally eschewing the more lo-fi connotations (and dress code) of black metal, and introducing the half-time breakdowns and punkier moments that can afford metal the “core” suffix (oft maligned by purists, but in no way objectively bad if done well). There are symphonic/grand piano textures too, but blended skillfully enough to avoid the risky cheese-factor. Dudes are doing backflips and screeching along and everything, it’s ridiculous, inspiring in its own way. Today has been a veritable assorted-breakfast-cereal sampler pack of local music, and it’s nice to round it out with something completely different. The clock clicks down to a new calendar date, whereupon Amplifier will become a pumping roost of hackneyed indie bangers and late-night gyrators. And that is where our story, for now, must end.