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Sweetdog Sounds II

Rag-N'-Bone

Mojos Bar

Friday, July 18, 2014

Throwing together a menagerie of 10 bands over two stages, the Fremantle record label Bruno Sweetdog Records invoked the old gods of rock, holding vigil through the long night alongside a cohort of Fremantle’s mystic voodoo child acid cult and normcore grunge and punk revivalists.

Lighting the flame was Yaqui Yeti. Singer/songwriter, Joshua Sweetman played a bare bones set of simple, steady, guitar-chunking eighthnote rhythms and blues-inspired vocal style. The songs, pumped out through a small, heavily-distorted portable amp, had an honest, DIY garage feel. Sweetman’s approach to performing was reflective, bantering with the crowd but performing with a light, unencumbered feel, both through original tunes and a cover of Elvis Presley’s Long Black Limousine. Sweetman was trying for a loud, wall of noise effect to his performance, however, with just one guitar, the overdriven chords lacked body to propel that sound to the audience. As well, Sweetman’s vocals were slurred and off-pitch, while lacking emotional conviction.

A cacophonous guitar thunk signalled the start of Marmmalade’s set. Treble-heavy distortion howling from the onstage guitar amp threw off-balance the steady, understated groove of drums and bass, though it gradually ebbed back to a smooth level by the third song. Breathy, hesitant vocals rested feather-light over psychedelic jazz rock instrumentation that played out a solid jam feel with a lot of good musical ideas that suffered from occasionally awkward transitions.

Childsaint juxtaposed Yaqui Yeti’s stripped-back courtyard scene with their dazed and enthralling set. Crystalline harmonic rounds opening the song, Gutter Punts, cut through the dull buzz of chatter that had built up. The linear, pattern-based feel of the drums asserted itself over the song – though timing stumbled – while the listless, legato vocal style of singer, Chloe McGrath, detached itself and floated wisp-like over the courtyard, curling snake-like through the punters and bleeding out into the cold night air.

From sedate to surfer punk, Aborted Tortoise blistered through a set of coarse but catchy guitar-driven punk tunes. After a big instrumental build intro, frontman Connor Lane came in loud and boisterous, but lacked the aggressive, drawling quality of vintage punk and the band’s releases. The band symbiotically fed off the cresting energy of the crowd, using the stage height to project themselves like grand, anarchic deities over the surging throng. Dream pop now, in the lazy confines of the courtyard, as Methyl Ethel, aka Jake Webb, took to the stage. Webb, guitar in hand, cut a coy and meditative silhouette as he worked his way through well-crafted and highly polished pop songs. There was an understated tone  to the performance which ultimately culminated in a fizzling out, of sorts, as Webb finished up his set.

Continuing the night’s pattern of cresting and waning dynamics, Rag n’ Bone ruptured onto the Mojos main stage with a frantic energy. Singer, Kiera Owen, called out bold, self-assured verses that peaked into howling vocal crescendos, while guitarist, Axel Carrington, convulsed onstage while strumming out distortion-thick blues rock riffs. New song, Danielle saw the band move into snarling bass riffs and tribal drums.

Out in the courtyard, Kitchen People moved away from the dreamy tones that had characterised the night’s outdoor entertainment and dished out a set of screeching, sardonic punk tunes. The band managed a set of rhythmically diverse tunes – from frenetic two-minute punk tunes to half-time grooves and jumpy time feels – while keeping a light feel to the music.

Inside, Hideous Sun Demon were beginning their set of drawling, sludgy stoner grunge, marking the end of the outdoor entertainment. With heavy, groove-based drums and bass providing the underlay for roaring guitar and vitriolic, slurring vocals. The band occasionally lagged, but maintained a massive, swelling wall of distortion that washed over the solid wall of people that had assembled.

Blackmilk were next, throwing mind-altering, genre-bending compositions that levitate like Pandora mountains between the realms of dream pop, groove rock and cerebral alternative. Floating vocal harmonies, led by the lank-haired James Sherry, spilled out from the meditative bands members, buttering the chunky guitar lines and sturdy, evolving drum beats for a highly polished set that waxed, heady and thick.

Finishing up the night was Dux family-led Perth titans, The Floors. Jiving blues rock thundered through the crowd, as vocalist, Luke Dux, howled and sputtered through attitude-charged songs. Hubris and swampy, tar-thick tunes radiated from the band, as Dux’s guitar, somewhat overloud though implacable, called out, laying a big fuzz sound over lumbering rhythm section parts.

 

SHAUN COWE

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