State Of The Art Festival @ Elizabeth Quay
Monday, June 5, 2016 (WA Day)
The State of the Art Festival really came into its own this year, with a massive, free concert in the resplendent surrounds of Elizabeth Quay (or EQ as it has fondly become known) featuring the cream of WA bands.
The sixth SOTA Fest, and the second at Elizabeth Quay, was a resounding success. Part of the WA Day Festival, it’s the perfect way to celebrate the holiday formerly known as Foundation Day – with a non-stop smorgasbord of WA talent, as live bands played under the big top tent from 12pm-9pm. And what a perfect day for it, as opposed to the downpour last year that took the shine off festivities.
This year, the whole Quay was packed and bustling with people of all ages, enjoying all the attractions, under the gaze of giant inflatable swans, and the kids rocked up in their thousands for the main event, with a huge sectioned off licensed area incorporating two stages, and a sprawling bar and food section featuring plenty of tables and chairs.
Early in the day, up and coming acts such as sultry voiced chanteuse Elli Schoen and indigenous rapper Ziggy got the crowd going, as a stream of people spilled into the venue. Other hot acts, sure to make some big moves in the coming year such as goth-tinged post rockers Rag n’ Bone and the energetic funky rap group POW! Negro impressed many with their polished sets.
Jebediah frontman Kevin Mitchell performed solo under his Bob Evans pseudonym, playing an enjoyable set of melodic, folky, acoustic songs. He seemed to be enjoying himself and the crowd were too.
Perth’s leading lady Abbe May put on a fine show, performing a rocking selection of her best songs backed by a drummer and synth player. Her awesome cover of Ginuwine’s Pony, as featured on Triple J’s Like A Version, went down a treat. And following on polished young synth-pop trio Crooked Colours dazzled the crowd with their shimmering set.
Also on the synth-pop tip was proud export of the Perth scene, and Luke Steele’s (Empire of the Sun) little sister, Katy Steele, who’s been making waves with her long awaited debut album. Today she blew many away with her professional performance. Dressed in black leather with sunglasses, she had a definite star quality about her, with a big sound and soaring voice. She’s a Little Birdy no more.
Things were really well set up this year, providing a great atmosphere that let everyone enjoy the day, even if they didn’t necessarily know any of the bands playing. The festival even had a dedicated area for Perth’s favourite food trucks to set up and feed the massive crowds that passed through Elizabeth Quay on Monday.
The sound quality was excellent and the bands sounded good from up close or far away, meaning that even those at the back of the crowd, or in the AAA section, could hear the bands well. The stages were also well set up, with the bands alternating between each stage, meaning that set up and soundcheck was easier and change over between bands was quicker. The backdrop of the stages featured huge LED screens in the shape of letters reading “WA DAY” and “SOTA”.
There were also big screens set up all around Elizabeth Quay and at the sides of the stage so that even when you were off getting food or away from the stages, you could still see and hear what was going on. This was a really great idea, that really enhanced the experience, wherever you were.
Another great feature was the broadcasting of the festival via YouTube across the state. This allowed everyone to be included in the festival, and the quality of the live stream was really good.
Having just come home from the UK and Europe, Tired Lion took to the SOTA stage at 5.45pm. The band played some songs from their upcoming debut album, as well as their Triple J played singles I Don’t Think You Like Me, Not My Friends, Agoraphobia and their latest single Cinderella Dracula which incited a circle pit.
They stated their love for WA music and encouraged people to continue seeing local bands at local venues. Bassist, Nick, was even repping FOAM on his shirt. Their performance was tight and a definite highlight – this is a band on the up and up. Lead singer and guitarist Sophie Hopes is really coming into her own as a frontwoman, and the now-huge crowd showed their appreciation.
Around this time the crowd peaked and the licensed area reached capacity causing a massive queue to form, snaking all the way around the corner and up around The Esplanade. The mayhem continued for Perth rock veterans Gyroscope, who always put on a good show, with solid chops and boundless energy. Merging their song Fast Girl into a rendition of Midnight Oil’s Beds Are Burning was a highlight, and singer Dan Sanders jumped into the crowd for Safe Forever.
Perth favourite hip hop son Drapht had a huge crowd assembled in the tent who were fully primed and ready to go off, and his blend of bouncy hip hop beats, tight rhymes and party-starting rhythms were just the ticket. Girls got on shoulders, and the crowd bounced as one as he tore through his impressive back catalogue of hits assisted by MC Bitter Belief and Downsyde’s Dazastah on the drums. His track with Dune Rats, Mexico and the classic Jimmy Recard had the big top pumping.
It was then up to heavy rock veterans Karnivool to finish off the night – quite another vibe to Drapht’s lovable party rock anthems, the ‘Vool are an altogether different beast. An incredibly tight, international-standard band – they seemingly effortlessly powered through a polished set with singer Ian Kenny’s distinctive voice soaring through the mix of pounding bass and drums and dueling guitars. The light show was top notch too. A great way to end the night.
All up it was a stupendously mammoth celebration for WA Day – and a reminder to all of the diversity and quality of musical talent our little city produces. As the MCs Timothy Nelson and Dominique Pratt reminded the crowd of predominantly younger punters, these bands and many more just as good, are out playing around Perth every weekend – the only ingredient they need to make their gigs go off is you. So get out and support local music folks, as we really do have an incredible amount of talent in this town.
Massive shouts out to WAM and the State Government for putting this fantastic event on. The entire day around the whole Quay was a great celebration of everything to love about this beautiful state that we’re bloody lucky to call home.
ALFRED GORMAN & KIERRA POLLOCK
Photos by Mikaela James Photography