Anton Franc

Louis & The Honkytonk/Daniel Champagne/PUMBA/Ruby Boots

The Bakery

Saturday, November 2, 2013 

Five acts for an EP launch – with the EP in question being four piece Anton Franc’s latest, All This Talk – is pretty good bang for your buck, but is it too much of a good thing? Maybe so if you’re not a hundred per cent on board with the current country-tinged, wistfully nostalgic thing which is dominating indie pop of late. Maybe Mumford has too many sons.

Which is not to say the night was a wash. Louis & The Honkytonk are good value, with a little more rock in their jocks than is normally found at this end of the street. Indeed, the only weak link in their lineup is vocalist Leigh Gardner, who tends to try to reach for levels outside his comfortable range. When he works within his capabilities, though, they’re the business – grungy and crunchy and fun.

New South Wales’ Daniel Champagne is an unassuming presence, and the large – and at the time largely empty – venue did him few favours. Champagne has quite the rep as a live hand, but it was hard to see why that night – his time on stage was dour, downbeat, dreary and – here’s the kicker – pretty much ignored. PUMBA fared better, with a thankfully more upbeat set. Clearly, PUMBA is an opportunity for its various members, which include alumni from Rainy Day Women, The Arsonist and
The Brow Horn Orchestra, to stretch themselves a bit and experiment a bit, but not at the expense of audience engagement.

Ruby Boots is always worth a listen in whatever form she/they take. In this case it was a minimalist showing by Bex Chilcott, a woman who knows how to make her chosen genre work for her. Chilcott  offered up a typically excellent performance, her sheer presence drawing punters away from the outdoor smoking area and into the Bakery’s cavernous main stage room.

Finally, Anton Franc took to the stage and they were… well, they were fine. Whether they were worth the time and money and effort to see them live is another thing entirely. There is no doubt that Joshua Bowyer, Jamie Kuzich and company are perfectly serviceable musicians and they’ve certainly carved out a place for themselves in the Perth music scene in a remarkably short period of time, but frankly this current folk-pop thing has just about run its course. Even if it hasn’t, what might fly in a more intimate setting doesn’t necessarily translate to a larger venue. Anton Franc began as a bedroom project and that’s pretty much where their stuff should be heard. This is low key, lo-fi and ultimately low-interest stuff; it’s right on the money for what’s hip at the moment, but that moment is surely going to pass soon.