Salary Upside Down Island album launch @ The Odd Fellow
w/ Last Quokka, The Spring Peaks, Robbie Rumble
Saturday, May 27, 2017
A healthy turn out, even for a Saturday, took to the Odd Fellow underneath the Norfolk Hotel on Saturday night for the launch of nine-piece indie rockers Salary’s debut album Upside Down Island.
A late change in the line up saw The Love Junkies’ axeman Robbie Rumble replace HYLA (who recently lost their drummer). It was quite the eye opener for anyone who’s never seen him on the mic, and accompanied by his electric guitar he wasn’t afraid to get a little intense – in a good way – much like his day band.
The Spring Peaks have been making a real name for themselves in a short period of time with plenty of love from Triple J Unearthed and some great live shows. Following a recently single launch of their own, they brought plenty of punters to the front of the stage early. Their latest singles Supermarket and No Curfew were highlights of a tropical indie pop set with nods to the sun-drenched guitars of Real Estate, as stylish frontman Jake Ostle commanded the stage.
After a short break Last Quokka took over. Known for their political sentiments they first acknowledged the holy soil of Freo that the Norfolk Hotel was built on, the land of the Wadjuk first peoples. The Freo punks kicked off with a few barnstorming ocker-punk numbers, channeling the energy from late 70s Joy Division to more contemporary influences like Sleaford Mods and the Peep Tempel.
A gripping highlight was their politically-charged rendition of the Aussie national anthem, fittingly complete with profanities and provocative “sig hei” gesturing. Like many acts with a garage or punk mentality the feeling and sentiment is more important than the music itself. While irreverent local classics like Northern Suburbs aren’t rock operas, they are not three-chord wonders either, and Last Quokka’s scrappy mannerisms generally made the odd imperfection all the more appealing.
Salary were up next and it took a few minutes for them to negotiate the challenge of fitting all nine of their members on the modestly sized stage. Mandolin player Jason Snook opted for a little more space standing out front.
Salary were finally launching their long-awaited debut album Upside Down Island and you could tell there was sense of relief and celebration amongst the group. Salary have a rich tapestry of instruments with which to craft their songs and lift them to new heights. The combination of violin, saxophone and backing vocals allow the music to soar in an organic sense akin to the homespun majesty of Arcade Fire’s first album Funeral.
Lead singer Sean Gorman’s voice was powerful enough to rise above it, then ease to moments of tenderness and melancholy when pairing with violin player Rachel Hocking. Employing the vocoder gave the songs an experimental edge.
While most of the songs are led by the guitars, some of the more interesting moments were when they followed the lead of staccato synth line courtesy of Harvey Rae, as the group pushed more into the territory of LCD Soundsystem’s Sounds of Silver.
There are few moments as compelling as when a vocalist knows they are hitting the end of a set and know they don’t have to leave anything in the tank. Gorman’s jubilant shout on previous single Mini Moke demanded everyone’s attention on a widescreen display that had something going on everywhere you looked. Yet after what we thought was the end they returned for a few last encore tracks and the saxophone solo that everyone had been craving. It wasn’t always perfect, but Salary did exceptionally well at navigating their chorus of different instruments while still employing the dynamic shifts to keep the songs engaging and if the group and the audience had had their way, they could have kept going on into the night.