Fremantle Music Festival
The Railway Hotel
Saturday, June 17, 2017
RTRFM’s Fremantle Winter Music Festival entered its 11th year, filling five Fremantle venues with local talents. When the performances kicked off at seven, Swan Basement had a long queue outside, whereas in the Railway Hotel, the situation was rather less crowded.
The setting stayed calm and uncrowded when the punk group Blindspot brought their mayhem to the Railway Hotel’s outdoor stage. The opening was strong and the guys delivered a set full of attitude and very down to earth lyrics with their Beer for Breakfast and Star Wars, making the start of the evening seem promisingly energetic.
After the riot on the stage, at the indoors stage The Limbs opened the evening with some slower tunes and that seemed to be the mood from there on. Even when Flossy entered the stage led by the O’Hara sisters, the festival goers seemed to still be scattered between the two stage fronts and barely a twitch of a hip was noticeable anywhere. After the girl power, back on the indoor stage, The Chlorines were the next to try their luck in getting the audience’s feet moving. However, their set was to be a bit too dreamy, though still a nicely flowing performance. Recent single A Toad Or A Dove was as good live as on record, but still didn’t achieve much reaction from the listeners. Singer-guitarist Owen de Marchi himself was enjoying most of the show eyes closed.
Black Stone From The Sun, two Perth homeboys, brought the evening back to garage grunge. The boys definitely resembled some Nirvana tunes in their playing. The duo filled the stage with their presence very well and from the back row it was hard to tell that it was only two people producing those huge hooky riffs.
It took the next band to really get the mood in the Railway Hotel lifted. The Southern River Band got it grooving with their simple rock, filled with impressive, long solos and a lot of entertaining banter. Chasing After Love was not only the band’s favourite, it also seemed to do it for the listeners as well.
From The Southern River Band’s strong guitar melodies it was time to move to the beer garden stage again to have a listen more punk performed by Aborted Tortoise. The five boys definitely knew how to mosh, but in terms of an overall picture, the performance was just non-stop songs with no indication of sharing some information about the songs to new listeners. Finally, Pat Chow finished the night, bringing their own grungy twist to the coherent list of bands.
Maybe it was the fact that the performers were divided between two stages, which made some people lazy to move their feet for the performances. Or maybe it just was a quiet night for the Railway Hotel, because even though the bar was full of people by the end of the evening, very few of them seemed to be there for the music – it seemed more like just another Saturday with some RTRFM flags hanging from the ceiling.
Being a massive fan of gig-banter, I reckon it adds that little something to the performances and can lift up even a technically flawed repertoire to new heights. Also, how else is the audience knowing where the songs are coming from? Playing live should bring out something else than just the songs – it’s why the bands perform. I can turn on a non-stop playlist at home for free. At the Railway Hotel, even with a set of performers suited to the venue well, the festival vibe was somewhat lost.