La Pegatina @ Badlands Bar
w/ Dilip n The Davs
Friday, May 18, 2018
At 8.30 pm it was quiet, with most of the ticketed guests choosing to mingle in the grassed outdoors garden when I first walked into the main stage area. There were two drum kits, four microphones and a keyboard set up on stage and I was immediately excited by the prospect of this evening. Badlands Bar with its quirky themed spaces was a great venue choice for a gig like this as the instruments stood proudly against a backdrop of brown cave-like walls.
Fremantle band Dilip n the Davs piled onto stage donning Hawaiian shirts and Fedora hats. After a large welcome to the evening from frontman Dilip Parekh, it was straight into groovy reggae/funk inspired beats. Since the band’s creation in 2008, they have been celebrated for their high-octane and high-energy performances. Their second song had two harmonica solos which just shrilled through the crowd as they lent into some lighthearted blues. If you weren’t already on the dance floor, you were bopping your head along to their music. They tackled topics of respecting your fellow man and stories of love lost and love found, with the highlight being the lead guitarist leaning heavy on the whammy in a solo showcasing some of their newest songs from an album released this year called Together. It is no wonder they have been such a feature on the local scene for so long as they represent a celebrated subculture in Fremantle giving rhythm to the West Coast.
During the break between bands, I trailed into the smoker’s section to strike up some conversation about this well-travelled band we were here to see. I wanted to find out from a local’s perspective how they envisioned the band to be. As I walked from table to table, a chorus of Spanish, Italian and French speakers raised the noise level in the back section with only a sprinkle of English natives. It was a wonderful experience to be the outsider as many European expats must feel in the traditional music scene that circles our city. To share an insight into a different culture within your home state is always something special as it challenges you to be a part of a different community.
Somehow La Pegatina managed to fit 9 members on stage. There were two drummers (one on bongo’s), three guitarists, two brass players, a vocalist and a man wearing a kilt who played the electric bagpipes when he wasn’t singing or playing the keys. It was a fiesta which naturally translated to the crowd as everyone jumped and danced and grooved. With their roots from one of the most well-known party cities in the world, the band embraced the crowd regularly, inviting them to clap or dance in specific ways. All of their music was in Spanish, French or Catalonian which was fun because you had absolutely no idea what story you were dancing to. To compensate for that, they played segues of The White Stripes or Foo Fighters before diving into upbeat frenzied rhythms. By doing so they simultaneously celebrated two languages and were able to engage as much of the audience as possible. In the latter half of the set, in excitement the trumpet and trombone player held their instruments together forming a bar that the rest of the band proceeded to go underneath. On their last song, three audience members climbed onto stage and danced along to a politically driven song from their latest album, Ahora A Nunca.
It was occasionally frustrating not being able to understand what the band is talking about. When you lose that sensory feature of music, it challenges you to only listen to the value of the music itself which this band organically had truck-loads of. Despite this, there was connection to the music through what was happening around us as the Spanish community sung back to the band. It was a refreshing reminder that it is absolutely okay to not be the target audience and still enjoy the value of the music. They were fun to watch as they box stepped around the stage and each member had a solo. When I walked outside of Badlands Bar with the taste of the set still in my mouth I was almost surprised to not be standing in the middle of Barcelona.
Photo by Jess Ruth Grant