My friend sent me a playlist three weeks ago. It mostly featured some slow jams by the porn-stached Donny Benét and I kind of was into it. The man in a white suit on the album art deterred me only slightly but there was enough that attracted me to his show in the wrong era at the Rosemount on Friday – maybe it was the idea that the uglier a man gets implies there must be some sense of talent (cc: Post Malone) or maybe it was going to a gig where you could groove but not to a DJ.
A quick cocktail across at the Old Laundry, gave my friend and I a little cheeky peek at the man who would later be playing for us. With his shiny bald head and an oversized white T bibbing up Angove street he could have run a butcher, owned by his family of macedonian descent in quiet pocket of East Perth. Most days he’d be watching reruns of the Europa League and serve customers apathetically, but tonight he was a star. Tonight he wasn’t just Donny, he was THE Don. Maybe I got a little carried away with my self-fabricated fallacy but you really could have just passed him in the street, as my mother would say.
Warming up the stage to present the big man were Demon Days. Whilst they have continued to make a place for themselves in the Perth scene, I’d yet to experience the neo soul funk 5 piece band. Opening with a little cocky keys improv by the guy with long thin hair, I couldn’t stop watching those fibres of silk slip over that face to the groove. Whilst their music is enjoyable I couldn’t help thinking of a conversation with my editor earlier that week. My usual harsh inner critic was complaining that my writing isn’t particularly earth shattering or intellectual, my boss commented that being accessible sometimes is worthier because it means even the average joe can read and enjoy without understanding the intricacies of music. This was the feeling I got about Demon Days, that although their chord progressions were beautifully constructed and they worked interesting keys, there was never really a hook – never really something we could grasp onto or a sense of familiarity with any of the songs. It felt like a WAAPA class where only the ‘real’ musicians could commend and respect. I’d put their records on if I was having a late night kip with an artsy boy I wanted to impress.
The hour of Mr. Donny Benet was finally upon us as a suited up, mulletted Don hit the stage. A very prominent saxophonist bleated through every song while Donny just blanged and bleeped along on his bass. A crowd favourite came in second with Love Online which he claimed to be the best love song of 2018. Heavy.
This kind of music just beguiles me though, like is it an ironic melancholic look back on his era or did he just never stop playing the same music and then all of sudden it’s just become cool again and someone from Triple J threw it on rotation? I think the evidence to support the latter claim also lies within the guitarist with his headless electric guitar. With a little bit of research under my belt, it is safe to assume there is no particular change in sound quality of the guitar but the futuristic look of these exotic birds began in the 80’s. The height of soft rock/ synthetic bass was in the 80’s. COINCIDENCE?! I think NOT.
As the night went on I was convinced that the saxophonist and guitarist were positively planning a mutiny against their captain as they VERY begrudgingly ooh’ed and ahh’ed into the mics. A step back and forth or slight bounce of the knees was also a definite mandate in the contract for both band members. The Don was the only one who was genuinely chuffed as he prance and danced to the undeniable funk of Konichiwa. It was as a very good friend stated ‘So tight, tight enough to be stadium worthy but naff enough for your dad’ and that about sums him up. A good swell night of jiving and seedy synth ballads.