SHAUS EP LAUNCH @ Grumpy’s gets 8/10

Shaus cassette/EP launch @ Grumpy’s Music Bar

w/ Last Quokka, The Mascara Snakes, Tanami
Saturday, December 21, 2019


Shaus have made their mark on the Perth rock scene in a short amount of time. They marked a big year with the launch of their self-titled EP on Saturday, released as a cassette (you get a download code with it), and limited to just 55 copies. After playing much of the year as a three-piece, the low end frequencies are now largely held in place by synth and noise artist Alwyn Nixon-Lloyd (Boys Boys Boys), who not only compliments their sound but seems to have completed the band.


Turns out Shaus are good tastemakers, too. Unconventionally putting themselves on second last and pulling together a terrific line up that matched up and comers with established acts on the local scene, it was a success all night with plenty of early arrivals already at Grumpy’s when Tanami hit the stage.

While singer Clare James initially attracted all the attention with an extremely loud, leopard skin one-piece bodysuit and matching heels, the band of veterans behind soon made their mark with a barrage of post-punk riffs with the odd surf or rockabilly lick thrown in. Guitarist Mike Wafer’s tone and playing were a thing of beauty, and the band brought to mind early Siouxsie and the Banshees, or perhaps even the thrilling sound of Perth’s own Nerve Quakes. It’s early days, but with a little more sinister attitude from James in the mix, this could be a lot of fun.

Last Quokka

Main support Last Quokka came on second and immediately dropped their latest, best single to date, Privilege. It takes a certain kind of band to lead with their biggest song, and it worked as punters got around and singer Trent Steven was soon out amongst them hugging everyone, encouraging general looseness. Straddling the line between activist punks and angular post-punk, it was turning out to be a night for the guitarists as Kirill’s playing delivered big in the intimate space. Songs generally started on a groove before thrashing out with huge riffs midway through; make no mistake, these are well thought out compositions, not two-minute punk throwaways.

But their dedication to anarchistic sincerity is what punk is all about, and with one of Perth’s most energetic and uninhibited frontmen all they need is to get Steven’s vocals a little higher in the mix so his awesome lyrics are more audible. With a love song to Geoff Gallop, a nod to black spiritual and jazz standard When the Saints Go Marching In and a finale in upcoming single Colony (launched at Clancy’s Freo on Saturday, Jan 11), they finished up as they started… always looking forward.


Shaus gave themselves a big job following one of Perth’s best bands but it’s testament to how good they’ve become in a short time that this turned out to be no thing. In fact, as the biggest crowd for the night squeezed in to get a look, they immediately dropped Come in Spinner, which also opens the Shaus EP launched on the night. It didn’t hurt that they were the heaviest band all evening as they doom-stomped to previously released single Smile//Compliment and joined songs together with bassy washes of synth, the soundscapes in between making the set feel like one continuous assault. It’s stoner rock, but with a stylish pulse.

Frontman Brandon Wilks was an entertainer throughout, dropping into Andy Williams’ Christmas hit It’s the Most Beautiful Time of the Year to get everyone festive, just before engaging in some shamanic dancing with crowd members during one of the set’s highlights, Dank Alley. With latest single Dollar Savings up four tracks in, they’d torn through the entire EP in no time (remixes aside). Once again the mix proved a guitarist’s wet dream and Ryan Nash’s playing is always at the heart of what makes Shaus great, but it’s the four individuals’ equally important contributions that make this band come alive. Alwyn’s Stranger Things-esque chiming synth suggested future directions, and hard-hitting drummer Leyla’s bloodcurdling scream into the mic at the end suggested Wilks should point the mic in her direction more often.

Mascara Snakes

Headlining but not headlining, The Mascara Snakes certainly are a band that looks good playing to a pit of lubricated dancers and made the final set their own. Ending the night with a raucous set of garage punk featuring highlights like RTR high rotation single I Can’t Quit You, they had a dedicated mosh pit throughout their short and sweet set. The shouty vocal chants are endlessly catchy, and given their lo-fi recordings, they’re that outsider kind of band that actually sounds more polished live than on record. It felt like a victory lap and was a great way to keep the party going post main attraction.

Then it was all over too soon as the clocks hit 11:11 and punters rallied to talk about after parties a little sooner than anyone was ready to. But with four great acts showcasing the range of punk and rock sounds in this town, there wasn’t a moment that Grumpy’s didn’t feel alive all night. Last we looked there were just 10 cassettes left on bandcamp, so dust off your tape recorders and jump on the remaining EPs quick before they’re gone. The remixes on side two are worth your dollar savings alone.


Photos by Caris Morcombe and Q