CLOSE

STATE OF THE ART FESTIVAL

You Am I - Photo by Cole Maguire
You Am I – Photo by Cole Maguire

Saturday May 30, 2015
Perth Cultural Centre

Northbridge was alive for the latest iteration of the State Of The Art Festival, which aims to showcase the vast talent hailing from Western Australia, set to coincide with the WA Day weekend. Acts old and new put on some seriously good music over the five stage festival and the inclusion of two free stages meant that everyone was able to enjoy the celebrations.

At the WA Museum Grounds Stage, Timothy Nelson And The Infidels gave a typically top notch performance, with Todd Pickett, who had already kicked off the day playing with Flooded Palace, subbing in on drums in the place of regular stickman Peter Forgus. The Love Junkies were up next, the three piece a delivering a short, sharp, blistering set of tight, angry tunes.

David Craft was one of the fine artists to play at the PICA Stage, located in the large Cultural Centre amphitheatre. Craft is a talented and prolific songsmith, and his array of seriously well crafted tunes were a perfect fit to the sunny surrounds. Even if a public space, there was no lack of people willing to get up and have boogie.

One of the many Perth-bred acts that made their way over from Melbourne for WA Day was Rob Snarski. Songs from his latest full length Wounded Bird were to order of the day. Armed with just an acoustic guitar (or two), and the warmest tones imaginable, songs such as Tender Like A Bruise and Henry Small were mesmerising.

Coming from a rich pedigree, former Little Birdy front-woman Katy Steele is entering into the second phase of her career. Steele was born to be an entertainer and the larger than life performer with the elfish frame has lost none of her panache. Gone are the underlying country tones, for a more modern approach to pop that revolves around programming, piano, beats, drums and Steele’s unique voice. The large crowd were appreciative of the new tunes such as Lonely, with Steele placed behind piano for most of the set as she unleashed her searing voice.

Over at the Urban Orchard, The Community Supergroup, made up of musicians and vocalists from the hip hop collective The Community, played a series of their members’ lushest offerings, backed by some fantastic instrumentalists. Their high energy, paired with thoughtful and perfectly presented lyrics, drew a big mob of supporters and groovers.

Rainy Day Women - Photo by Cole Maguire
Rainy Day Women – Photo by Cole Maguire

Four piece Rainy Day Women having been making a name for themselves with their summery slices of pop. They continue the Perth traditional of upfront jangly guitars over tight rhythms over lacklustre vocals. Newest member Carmen Pepper was playing her first festival with the band and, as well as holding bass duties, offers flexibility as evidenced on recent single Matter Of Time. The band put on a breezy take on indie pop with clear harmonies and melodic guitars to confirm they are an act that is going from strength to strength.

Back at the PICA stage, Ensemble Formidable put their varied sound on display with a combination of swing, funk and jazz inspired tunes which really got people hopping. A tight horn section, singing strings, sweet vocals and even a few raps to boot made up a seriously energetic and inspiring performance.

Drones front man Gareth Liddiard is the dark lord of storytelling as he weaves melodies that sneak up on you like the plague. The wiry performer is no stranger to filling a room and this was no exception. For a person that plays with modest volume, the punters respectfully watch in silence and awe. Songs from Strange Tourist and a cover of Oh Gin by The Velvet Underground showed the diversity of artists on display and the power of the low key.

Downsyde - Photo by Cole Maguire
Downsyde – Photo by Cole Maguire

Perth hip hop group Downsyde hit the WA Museum Stage for what was their first performance in four years. They ripped through some of their classics and gave the crowd the opportunity to enjoy some of the new music off their forthcoming release.

For a band that haven’t played in close to 30 years, The Holy Rollers created quite the buzz. Greg Dear is a strong presence at centre stage, with a voice that has aged like a mid-priced wine. It was a rare delight to see rock-solid sibling and drummer Flick Dear be the solid backbone of revered tunes like Above The Law and Lifestyle. Finishing with their signature take on Leonard Cohen’s The Stranger Song we were left to ponder why they would limit this reunion to only one outing.

Over at the tucked away State Theatre Courtyard stage, a crowd were treated to a beautiful performance from West Australian jazz singer Lois Olney. Accompanied only by acoustic guitar, Olney’s beautiful timbre filled the space with warmth.

Andy Kent, You Am I- Photo by Cole Maguire
Andy Kent, You Am I- Photo by Cole Maguire

It is with some trepidation that you enter a You Am I performance, such has been the chaotic nature of their past decade, but from the opening moments of Junk you could tell that this was one not to be missed. Tim Rogers was brimming with rock energy and a whole lot of love as he acknowledged the traditional owners of the land between cracking versions of old and new favourites. There were windmills and a dose of twerking for good measure as Mr Milk, Friends Like You and Cathy’s Clown were ripped through with gusto. There was no shortage of advise for new players, as Rogers and his best mates played like the days of old. You Am I came, they saw, they hit you just like Lionel Rose.

The original line-up of The Scientists have reformed with the impending nuptials of drummer James Baker on the horizon, and this all ages venue gave punters of many generations the chance to see the punk royalty. Giving the punters what they want from the get go, they kicked into their most recognisable tune Frantic Romantic. A loud and sloppy but enjoyable take on the Dee Dee Ramone tune Chinese Rock was interspersed between more pop based songs like That Girl. It may not have been the most polished set by any stretch with Roddy Radalj bantering between tunes like a giddy schoolgirl, but it was sure as hell entertaining.

Ian Kenny, Birds Of Tokyo - Photo by Cole McGuire
Ian Kenny, Birds Of Tokyo – Photo by Cole Maguire

Back at the Museum Stage, Birds Of Tokyo proved to be highlight for many punters, with Ian Kenny leading the band through a showstopping set that included a surprise cover of Drugs by ‘90s faves Ammonia – a final slice of nostalgia on a day that celebrated the deep history of WA music.

CHRIS HAVERCROFT, JAMES HANLON, TRAVIS JOHNSON