Man Sandal @ The Bird
w/ Fox Scully, Fraeya
Wednesday, July 25, 2018
A storm warning wasn’t anywhere near enough to dissuade punters from trekking through blustery conditions to The Bird to see three shining examples of Perth’s young music scene on Wednesday night.
Fraeya kicked off the evening with her band in tow, including recognisable faces Noah Dillon and Chet Morgan (of Figurehead) making appearances. Her setlist was chock-a-bloc, including Housewarming, Highway and Mess. Comprised of your stock-standard guitar/bass/drums, her soft indie rock was familiar-sounding without being boring. Many of her songs started off slow, building to a powerful and emotional peak which got many heads bopping throughout the room. Lyrically they were simple, but oftentimes that’s what gets the greatest impact. Relatable words such as “I don’t want you to want me, but I want you to miss me” were effective in meaning and delivery. A particular highlight was Rare, apparently the first song Fraeya wrote on guitar and one she hates playing. Nevertheless, the crowd were clearly enthused.
Fox Scully took over, much to the excitement of many in the room who clearly came just for them. Their unique brand of somewhat indefinable alternative music never fails to prick up ears, even in those who have heard them play before. Vocalist Jonny Burrows arguably has one of the most interesting voices in the Perth scene; truly Aussie in its intonation but with the occasional American twang. At times, he even heads into screamo territory; well, imagine what indie screamo would be like and that’s it.
Their first song had them performing solemnly about being “left on a dusty road”, another had them using some cool collaborative singing, but the highlight was their track Fears. Detailing one’s irrational “paranoia and social anxiety”, it’s a darkly comical insight into life as a worrier that strays away from your typical love story songs. They utilised a similar emotional build like Fraeya, but seemed to delve into more complex musical territory with their playing and construction of songs. They really are masters of their indefinable genre. For improvement’s sake, a little bit more banter and backstory would’ve been appreciated for those of us keen to hear about the boys beyond the music.
Headliners Man Sandal, formerly known as Belgrade, hit the stage after a reasonably lengthy gap and provided the crowd with an all-new set. The cool lights and backdrop were fired up for the five-piece and off they went. The first standout feature of the quintet was that they employed a range of somewhat unusual instruments for the band’s scene, such as the harmonica, violin and some intriguing synth patterns. Their use of pedals also stood out, such as in their third track which was reminiscent of old-timey Mexican music. Each track was comprised of layers upon layers; a definite level of complexity was employed in the construction of each. Not even a guitar mishap towards the end of the set slowed them down, with a replacement quickly employed. It was easy to get swept away in their multi-generic soundscape; one minute Jack Johnson, the other Nick Cave.
Gigs such as these are all you need to gain faith in the emerging artists of Perth. Regardless of who they are or what they play, there is so much skill and passion out there waiting to be heard, and to inspire leagues of new musicians. They are everywhere, and they rock.
Photos by Adrian Thomson