LAST QUOKKA @ The Bird
w/ Salary, Zerodent, Low Maintenance
Saturday, March 3, 2018
Last Quokka’s Dieback debut LP launch last Saturday was an energy-filled evening that lifted my low mood through its difference to the music most of us Perthians are used to.
Despite missing the first cab off the rank (Low Maintenance) due to my boyfriend leaving his ID at home, we arrived just in time for Zerodent’s set, our personal highlight of the evening. Despite being asked to fill in for Terrible Signal after some last-minute personal problems cropped up, the group were in nothing less than fine form. Lee Jenkins surprised us with his gravelly voice which complemented their 70s punk vibes, comparable to that of The Jam or Ramones.
Unlike traditional punk, the usual distorted guitars were swapped for the clean, crisp and melodic parts, which was an intriguing and welcome change. Each song was short and sharp which proved to be a great way of keeping the audience fixated. The set was interspersed with a few amusing mishaps, namely drummer Dylan Prossor inadvertently tossing one of his sticks mid-song and guitarist Predrag Delibasich snapping a string. The only area in which we could complain was the lack of space and banter between each track, leading us to become a little confused as to where one ended and the next began.
Next up was Salary, usually a whopping nine-piece but performing as a sextet that evening. Immediately we were drawn to the presence of saxophonist Alan Holdbrook, which is something you don’t encounter that much outside of the Ellington Jazz Club. The band wordlessly jumped straight from tuning into action. The first song reminded me of Band of Horses in its soft, mellow feel and this was a common thread throughout. Vocalist Sean Gorman sang much in the way of Galaxie 500’s Dean Wareham, except for the added intrigue of an autotune pedal. After the frantic energy of Zerodent, a calmer pace was the perfect addition to our evening.
Last Quokka hit the stage and started off on the perfect note with an Acknowledgement of Country; an apt notion considering their staunch left-wing politics. Compared to Zerodent, Last Quokka’s take on punk was much more what we’re used to in the Perth scene. Their first track was both amusing and sobering, a song called Football Star which spoke of Sam Newman of Footy Show fame. This was followed by Responsibility which was rightly filled with chants of “accept responsibility!” A lighter moment was found on what I believe was called Last Moments, which addressed “moments of hope in a hopeless and pointless world”.
The band took time to address the oil and gas mining issue on Ningaloo, as well as to detail the backstory of a track about the shortcomings of Perth’s mental health system. We also appreciated the funny moments, particularly the interlude about Miso and Sushi the dogs.
Last Quokka truly lived up to their reputation, at one point ending a song with “fuck the government!” and middle fingers raised to the sky. Though powerful and full of positive messages, lyrically I wasn’t always enthused. Nevertheless they, like Salary and Zerodent before them, were full of life, passion and talent, and surely that’s all you can ask for.
Photos by Alan Holbrook