There’s a clearing near the highway and the quiet river flow
Where the conifers prepare themselves each year
For a day and night of music, and the visitors who go
for to drink the two-stage programme with their ears.
I arrive and (feeling spritely) take position near the speakers,
The air is warm, the welcome’s even warmer
A man gives me a chupa chup and trots off in his sneakers
Then Caitlin introduces the performers —
JEFF'S DEAD, the knell is sounding as five fellers crest the stage,
Jeff Strong the zombie skipper at the fore.
Their twisted country musings, from the witty to the sage
are celestial with synth as verses soar
Now several knells sound swiftly - or BELLS RAPIDS in the piney
auditorium, riffs cracking through the air
Resounding in the open, Bellsy’s songs sound extra shiny
Perfect harmonies, and sizzle, fuzz and snare
And hailing from the goldfields, golden song craft in addition,
now THE PICTURE GARDENS paint a pretty scene.
Interweaving blues, Indigenous rock, and pop traditions,
their set is brief but vital and serene.
Up from the horizon rise the SOLAR BARGE BIG BAND,
All masked - don't ask me who, got no idea.
But they seem to have a great time, all and sundry tools in hand
Doomy psych-jazz sonifying Ra's career
PHIL-WALLEY STACK then follows on, a legend of the West
In duo mode with bonus lead guitar;
His tales of life and culture mid the sunshine and the rest,
Evoking times and landscapes near and far
So CRAIG mate - what are HALLSWORTH? Well, at least a song or six
As the veteran comes out with strings all hissin,
A heavy brand of indie, with a somber tone for kicks
With lyrics that beseech a closer listen
If DOCTOPUS change up the mood, guitar stays at the core
(Thanks to Jeremy, who’s freshly - somehow - shaven)
Frustrations, celebrations wrought through punk that's weird and raw
But wet and cool like Mettam's pool. A haven!
Then suddenly DREAM RIMMY are upon us like a rug,
all of fizzing purple modulating stars.
With washy hooks and citric zaps, motorikky chug
Understated vocals, thick guitars…
We're due now for some hardcore punk, infused with brutal metal
A vicious kind of captivating aura
This quartet thrashes, screeches, hurtles, blares and never settles
And quickens all our blood. For what? FÖRSTÖRA!
Less vicious, but still powerful - and brooding, darkly hued
now CHILDSAINT air their shoegaze-pop melodics
With lilting chords, intense crescendi, grungey tropes renewed
A raft of hazy moods made episodic
And returning like a moonflower, well-loved APRICOT RAIL,
A sweet mosaic of beats and chiming tones;
Slow-burning woodwind power, tunes that whisper, build and wail
They’re a band Perth must be proud to call its own.
A swarming crowd pack in, to witness INSTITUT POLAIRE
A staple of Perth’s noughties indie antics
Orchestral, dense, anthemic songs imbued with love and care
Who knew that pop could sound so damn gigantic?
The sultry sounds of DANIEL SUSNJAR’S AFRO-PERUVIAN…
JAZZ GROUP are soon colliding in the dark
With timeless grooves (one might even suppose: antediluvian),
We ride upon their complex, buoyant arc
Now RAG ’N’ BONE are not alone in bringing hefty rock
to Somerville this clement Autumn eve
But well-wrought songs and Keira’s lungs blow off abundant socks
As the fierce guitar lines bolt and duck and weave
POW! NEGRO, local heroes of the jazz-hop-rock persuasion
Keep our spirits high, adrenal glands a-pumping.
Rapper Nelson, horns and band, at their peak for the occasion;
Lead lines howling, nimble drummer thumping.
If duo SODASTREAM decrease the pace and the intensity,
It’s in a way that’s warm and opportune
And though I’m biased (I jump up on violin), the density
Of sing-a-longers verifies the boon.
Lest we get too calm too quick, we’re blasted by a DEMON,
of the HIDEOUS SUN variety, what’s more;
Its arms are four, its grinds and roars, the audience is teemin’
with hot sweat and grins and flailing limbs galore.
Now if our weary brains were thinking TANGLED THOUGHTS OF LEAVING
a band that’s named as such dispels delusion.
We stay, with awe-struck gazes at the knotty layers heaving,
They’re a stern but truly singular inclusion.
Then fellow heavy favourites - although from a different school,
It’s the loud and ever-lovable LOVE JUNKIES,
Pop melodies, distorted hooks and frantic beats unspool
They’re welcomed like bananas unto monkeys.
To send us home (if home means leaving), legends JEBEDIAH
Icons of a generation past.
Classics like ’Harpoon’ hold up, like so much hills-hoist wire
These snotty, poignant songs were built to last.
And as the crowd disperses and the faces grow more clear,
I see the eyes of twinkling cheer and thanks,
Not only for the wireless band that give us ‘Pines each year
But for the human gems among its ranks.
It’s forty years since RTR began, upon these grounds
among these university lawns and halls
Forty years from strength to strength and endless varied sounds,
Of broadcasts, gigs and Radiothon phone calls
I say it every time, it holds, we truly owe a debt
(those of us who make or relish tunes)
To RTR and family, the blood and tears and sweat,
That’ve kept the dream alive so many moons.
On days like this we’re joined in ways antennas can’t enable,
Clinking drinks and mingling in the sun,
To dance, converse and share the breeze, a modern cultural fable
And so far, this year’s Pines - my favourite one.