Rat Columns/Cold Meat
Saturday, June 13, 2015
For a few years now, Dianas have been an omnipresent fixture in Perth, playing surf-y dream pop that’s equal parts gossamer and steamroller. Now, with an almost-finished album in the wings, there’s a sense of irresistible momentum about the trio, something fairly evidenced by the speed with which The Bird packed out for the launch of their new single, Good Enough Girl. Newcomers Cold Meat kicked off proceedings with an arresting, urgent set of maybe ‘80s post punk, bringing to mind the immovable-object conviction of Wipers entwined with the kind of incendiary X-Ray Spex-level teeth-kicking that everyone should pour over their head before breakfast daily. As she described a very small arc across the stage, leaning occasionally on the mic stand and pausing only to draw a deeper breath, the vocals of once-Dianas drummer Ashley Ramsay were mesmeric in their power, like swimming upstream through a current of knives.
At the same time, there’s the kind of like, almost verdant modesty to their performance that you can only really access by watching grainy VHS rips of Fugazi – hi, these are the songs, we’re the music band, that’s that. Though only a few gigs old, Cold Meat are well past being should check out to absolutely must see. Jesus.
In a switch-up, the buttoned-up and autumnal Rat Columns followed, headed by Perth-via-San Fran-via-Perth maestro David West. Having assembled a fairly all-star band (Amber Gempton from Astral Travel, Lewis Hooper from Wind Waker and others, Chris Cobilis from everybloodything), the Rats blew through effervescent and immaculately arranged tunes with the unstressed and dynamic ease you tend to see by watching exclusively a stunt driver’s hands as she clicks through gears.
As definitely the only people in the room who have put out a record with Mexican Summer, there’s a kind of aura around RC. It’s all sort of like watching the smartest kids in school pull off some sick . While things passed in a bit of blur since West is a decidedly unassuming kind of frontman – he lets his crystalline guitar work do more of the talking – the song craft and the emphatically yeah performances do the lifting one senses his voice prefers not to, Bartleby-style.
Finally, Dianas emerged for a sorta-marathon set, rolling through songs old, new and newer. One of the most rewarding things about their music has been the indelible evolution of the vocal interplay between Caitlin Maloney and Nathalie Pavlovic – like, what began as like, ethereal harmony has now taken the property of watching two webs simultaneously spin themselves into reality and then back out, with the eeriness of ‘90s time lapse footage of flowers growing in Attenborough documentaries. Twinned with that is the burgeoning surfeit of adventurousness in their songwriting, with the deflationary pauses in Good Enough Girl kinda foreshadowing the whole emotional gutpunch of the sentiment. With older favorites like Washed Up also getting an airing, they were exactly as spellbinding as usual. The album can’t come soon enough.