In The Pines @ Somerville Auditorium
Sunday, April 30, 2017
RTRFM’s all-inclusive community spirit was on show early at the 24th annual In The Pines festival.
By third band The Picture Gardens, a regional indigenous act discovered via WAM’s Sounds of the Goldfields compilation, there had been a Welcome to Country from Phil Walley-Stack (who performed his own set mid-afternoon), an all girl group (not the last for the day), and a host of different genres ranging folk, blues and indie rock.
Jeff’s Dead may have been unlucky to be the first musical cab off the rank considering main man Jeff Strong came up with Abbe May more than a decade ago, but what an opening set it was. Strong is one of Perth’s most charismatic frontmen, and as he led the way through favourites such as Emotional Disease and Solid Sea, the only disappointment was a mix that drowned out keyboardist Sean Gorman’s inventive synth parts. Nonetheless, the closing Work was one of the day’s standout tracks as Strong made his way out into the crowd, dancing and tearing it up on harmonica.
It’s been a big few weeks for Stella Donnelly following the launch of her EP Thrush Metal and a string of acclaimed performances at Fairbridge Festival. Rounding it out at Pines as Bells Rapids‘ lead guitarist, she was joined onstage by Boat Show bandmate Ali Flintoff (herself back later to front Dream Rimmy) filling in on bass for the injured Sara Jane McPherson while Tanaya Harper led the band through favourites such as awesome single GF. The question of whether or not Flintoff has really taken a shit in Kevin Parker’s front yard remains a mystery that we hope we didn’t mishear.
A major highlight was cult-ish nine-piece Solar Barge Big Band. Just wow. If ever a band has gone close to stealing the show at 2pm, this cacophonous instrumental act trading Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s exorcising intensity with an almost afrobeat sensibility reminiscent of the great Fela Kuti – they’d be it. It was fun enough just watching them set up with their weird masks, long cloaks and bizarre instruments (was that an electronic clarinet?)
Following Walley-Stack’s return to the stage came a special treat and rare live appearance from Craig Hallsworth, former member of legendary Perth outfits Outstation, Tangled Star and The Bamboos. Then Doctopus added some psychedelic goodness to proceedings with an onslaught of melodic guitar and distortion. Their groovy sounds had people up and dancing and by the end of the set the floor was full.
Dream Rimmy’s understated shoegaze style was a nice change of pace after Doctopus’ full throttle set. The masculine sounds of guitars and keys contrasted against Flintoff’s angelic and sweet vocals. They sailed through their opulent set like a tightly run ship, and by the time they got to Landslide everyone was swaying and chanting along knowingly. Don’t miss the launch of their new EP Heavy this Saturday at Mojos.
A drastic change up came via Förstöra, who made the crowd stand up and take notice with their distinctive hardcore punk stylings. The powerful performance pummeled as songs from their album For All That Will Save Or Destroy Us showcased frontman Denis Radacic’s incredible guttural vocals and the band’s emotionally aggressive guitars.
Over to the next stage it was time for the delicately lush sounds of Childsaint, one of the most authentic bands in Perth. They provided an atmospheric, wistful set full of mesmerising harmonies and intricate guitar work, somehow managing to be both edgy and ethereal all at once. RTRFM’s most played song for 2016 Hallelujah Heartache had the whole crowd singing every word back to the band, in one of the festival’s standout moments.
People who have been listening to local Perth music for a long time will know what a special occasion it is to see post-pop, instrumental group Apricot Rail play their progressive pop tracks. The more experimental sounds of xylophone, clarinet, double percussion and melodica added an enchanting and eclectic touch to a magical day as they played plenty of old favourites including A Public Space and the dual trumpet-clarinet attack of If You Can’t Join Them, Beat Them.
Up next was another renowned Perth indie band, Institut Polaire, who wowed the crowd with their alt country and modern folk music. The upbeat set was delivered via toe-tapp’n songs with just the right amount of edge. For a band with two guitars, bass, violin, drums, keys and trumpet, they are surprisingly minimalistic in sound which is probably due to the catchiness of the melodies and chiming vocal harmonies. Particular highlights included City Walls and Empires and Institute of the Empire, institutional songs for local Perth music lovers delivered to aplomb and cries of joy from the crowd.
Daniel Susnjar Afro-Peruvian Jazz Group drew the biggest crowd yet with a joyously uplifting and impeccably timed set full of jazz and global tastes. It was impossible not to smile or tap along to as the band delivered internationally acclaimed music whilst seemingly having the absolute time of their lives. They were the perfect band to play as the sun went down and get everyone ready for the party ahead.
Rag N’ Bone proved why they are current Perth favourites with their vigorous and angsty political songs. They took the energy up a notch and delivered a schooling in how to do post punk music, made unique by Kiera Owen’s formidable stage presence and voice. Their devoted fans came out in droves and threw their bodies around recklessly.
POW! Negro were up next and gave the crowd a taste of their wide-ranging sounds from jazz and hip hop, to experimental pop rock, funk and electronica. They are a hard band to categorise because they are so diverse and radical, and their set was like an assault on the senses in the best way possible.
For those who love their music heartfelt and full of finesse, Sodastream are the band for you. The infamous Perth band’s soft indie folk songs, delivered via Karl Smith’s spine-tingling and unique vocals, hit you right in the chest. Sodastream put an emphasis on good old fashioned storytelling, opening the set with the amazing Fresh One. Their banter between songs suggested they may be the most humble guys the Perth music scene has produced (even if they’re based in Victoria these days). New track Three Sins was a standout and reminiscent of a modern Paul Kelly, proving their ability to write modern Australian folk. Sodastream finished their set by getting Heathcote Blue (who had previously appeared as part of the Solar Barge Big Band) to join them on stage for a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s So Long, Marianne, and it was the standout moment of the festival.
Hideous Sun Demon followed with their high energy garage punk taking frenetic vitriolic music to a new level. The band bashed out all their hits to an adoring crowd which were running amok and had filled the whole area in front of the stage and way back towards the food vans. Lead singer Vin Buchanan-Simpson proved yet again what an enigmatic front man he is.
Tangles Thoughts of Leaving brought some well-timed diversity to the line-up showcasing their post rock and post metal sounds with weaving, intricate guitar lines and melodies that had the crowd absolutely transfixed. The set ended with 10 minutes of brilliantly cerebral and reverberating keys and soft, elaborate percussion work that danced and twirled around the grounds poetically.
The Love Junkies were next up and their energy and enthusiasm had the crowd pleading for more. Their diehard fans seemed to know every lyric to every song and sang along with passion. Mitch McDonald’s voice ranges from anguished screaming to sweet saintly highs and mid-range cadenced harmonies – making it all seem so easy. It’s this diversity in sound and pairing full throttle punk with dreamy pop melodies that make them such an awesome band to watch live. By the time Maybelline came, the whole place was set a light. It got so wild McDonald had to tell the crowd, “make sure you look after each other out there,” before confirming with the crowd that “safety is cool!”.
To finish off the night, we took a walk down nostalgia lane with one of WA’s most iconic alternative rock bands, Jebediah. Starting off with Jerks of Attention they proved they still have the youthful energy and angst they had back when Slightly Odway came out in 1997. They first graced In The Pines 21 years ago and after all these years you can’t help but feel slapped in the face by their sheer talent at creating catchy as hell tunes, backed with exceptional lyricism.
For the older people in the crowd, you couldn’t help but laugh when Kevin Mitchell introduced Harpoon as “a song some of you may have been conceived to”. And god, what a cracking tune it is, a timeless ballad – like many of theirs – thanks to heartfelt, honest and vulnerable lyrics. They are an incredible band and were the perfect closer for such an iconic local Perth festival.
Bring on the 25th anniversary in 2018.
LARA FOX & HARVEY RAE
Photos by Elle Dalziell