WAMFest @ Various Venues
Friday, November 1, 2019
Following a huge awards ceremony on Thursday night, Friday saw the launch of WAMFest 2019’s weekend of free gigs across the city. Apparently one of the world’s largest celebrations of local music with over 100 artists playing 17 venues in two days, the promise was huge.
Freo nine-piece Salary opened the show on the Capitol stage to a disappointing early turnout. This, however, didn’t seem to phase them as they launched into a set of heartfelt, gypsy folk songs that had just enough of a pop edge to get you singing along to the choruses. An impressive band musically, every person on that crowded stage added another dimension to what culminated in a beautifully simple but broad sound.
Over in Amplifier, Human Effigy filled a last minute hole after thrashers Psychonaut dropped from the bill, and truly rose to the occasion. Frontman Shannon Marston is a force to be reckoned with, and the four beside him were tight, aggressive and confident as they delivered their take on heavy, modern nu metal. It was great to see strong support, with Human Effigy t-shirt wearing metalheads throwing themselves around the, by then, half full room. This was only the band’s second gig but with performances like that, there’s a strong future ahead of them.
The adjoining doors from Amps to Capitol were closed while Human Effigy played, but luckily there was enough overlap to catch part of Lucy Peach’s set. Peach is a passionate performer and speaker, and is as well known in the Australian music scene for her folky, acoustic aussie pop as she is for her passionate advocacy for female body confidence (check out her popular Fringe show My Greatest Period Ever). So, you’d be forgiven for expecting to be greeted with a packed house as you made your way into the large Capitol live space. But no, the room was still much less than half full, with the majority of observers leaning on the bar. There were a handful of keen supporters, drunk enough to dance, rattling around the dance floor. Opening with her popular Be So Good, the performance itself was powerful. Lucy herself was the most charismatic and likeable frontperson to grace Capitol’s stage on the night, and her band succeeded in bringing energy and size to these catchy pop songs in a way that was perfect for what should have been a big show.
Around the grounds, Tanya Ransom played a solo set inside cute little cafe Holmes & Co, staring down hecklers with her confident stomp box-driven acoustic folk and finishing on the damn catchy Let Love Remain. Meanwhile at the Sewing Room, Tom Fisher & the Layabouts were as notable for guitarist Killian Albrecht’s great shreds as their top shelf, Springsteen-esque rock and roll.
Back at Amps, All This Filth have been on the Perth metal circuit for years and have a strong and loyal following. They stormed Amplifier with their heavy as hell, industrial tinged sound in front of an enthusiastic crowd of WA metalheads. Seasoned frontman Brendon Preston told tales of resilience through depression and anxiety. Lead guitarist Mark Honey kept things entertaining as he hyperactively hopped, skipped and jumped around what space he could find on stage, and keyboard player Benny Bones’ beaming smile and gestures to the crowd added a little extra personality to the show. It’s these little antics that, despite the often solemn lyrical content, make All This Filth an enjoyable band to witness live.
Back in Capitol, geek rock veterans Turnstyle delivered a polished and well received set including classics Spray Water on the Stereo and Cologne, but the atmosphere still struggled to lift beyond polite applause between songs. By this point it was clear the ambitious undertaking of bringing worthwhile crowds to six venues on the same night was either out of reach or the marketing was a stiff. Either way, despite a strong line up, Capitol just never got out of first gear and the turnout didn’t do any of the acts justice.
Walking back into the smaller Amplifier, the vibe couldn’t have been more different. Though not full by any means, the atmosphere was electric as Tempest Rising took to the stage. With a reputation around Australia as a formidable live band they brought brutally heavy guitar tones and the impressive vocal range of lead singer Vin Trikeriotis. The set was spotlessly delivered groove metal madness all pulled together by shredding guitars and perfectly delivered clean vocal choruses. Tempest Rising stand tall at the forefront of the WA metal scene and tonight’s show proved why. The now intoxicated and sweaty crowd rewarded them by shouting along and hurling their bodies around like lunatics. This was arguably the set of the night.
Meanwhile Ruby Boots also did her best to claim those honours at the Sewing Room, the internationally acclaimed artist getting everyone in the mood with the country rock of It’s So Cruel and Wrap Me In a Fever (the latter she described as a ‘Perth moment’ after everyone sung along). But it was the a cappella I Am a Woman that really stole the show, in particular its closing line: “You lay it all on the line/ When you lay down with me”. Ruby is the real deal.
Illyria wrapped things up on the Amps stage to a slightly dwindling crowd. Illyria’s sound is more atmospheric and not as “balls to the wall” energetic as the bands that preceded them, but it’s also mesmerising and extremely well executed. There’s a hell of a lot of emotion in there and that comes across as genuine, particularly in the throat tearing high scream parts.
A great ending to a great line up of bands, it was good to see the heavy music tragics out in force supporting their scene, but it’s a real shame WAMFest couldn’t pull the crowds to fill up the rest of the venues.
Photos by Linda Dunjey and Adrian Thomson