West Thebarton @ Badlands Bar
w/ Pist Idiots
Friday, June 22, 2018
As their first headline gig ever in Perth, West Thebarton had brought an eclectic mix of punks and hipsters of all ages out. It was perhaps a bigger crowd than excepted, but not at all surprising considering the mammoth year 2018 has been for them. Since the release of their debut, Different Beings Being Different, the Adelaide seven-piece have locked in a national tour around Oz followed by a spell of Europe and USA festival line ups to round out the year nicely.
The band that has accompanied them on their national tour was on stage as I arrived. Pist Idiots stood very proudly wearing mismatched golf wear and the drummer in his underwear. When questioned, the drummer advised that he “can’t drum in pants or shirts because if I wear long pants I start sweating and I have to take off everything anyway.”
Their music seemed like a statement to that testament. That self-righteous do-whatever-you-want mindset carries through to their lyrical content creating relatable and honest songs like Pussy Weak and Fuck Off. Through the latter half of their set, it felt like they started losing interest in it which translated to the captivated audience as the lead guitarist faced his back to the punters. The incredibly guttural high pitch screech that comes through recorded versions of Fuck Off didn’t quite match their live performance. Regardless, this punk rock group from Sydney had some moments of transient beauty, with a guitar solo that had the hairs on the back of your neck standing up. With the release of their self-titled EP last year, it will be exciting to see how their debut album develops with a sound reminiscent to BAD//DREEMS.
After the break the room became dense as the crowd watched the stage. There were five guitars resting against speakers with two drum kits set up behind it. Three microphones were balanced along the front and when West Thebarton filed on stage they were all wearing black. The bottom level of Badlands was split in two. It was interesting to watch the diversity in the crowd. Most of the punters danced lightly along to the music with a handful of huge personalities taking up half of the dance floor. They led their set with Stuck on You, a cult classic for its addictive riffs and grainy vocals that have you throwing your arm around your pal in a bold anthem.
After this, axeman Brian Bolado placed down his guitar to switch to percussion which left four guitarists and two drummers for a progression of songs from Different Beings Being Different. Halfway through their set, their Like a Version cover of You’ve Got The Love made its way through the speakers with a huge reaction from the crowd but the favourites had to be Bible Camp and Moving Out. With every song on their debut played, it was hard to not be completely satisfied.
To stress, West’s stage personality is unmatched. The entire room smelt like BO and spilt beers but to a punk rocker, that smell is fucking amazing. For gorgeous slow, intimate and ragged intros that bring texture to their slower songs, we had frontman Reverend Ray wrapping the mic cord around his neck applying pressure. His gravelly vocals and lyrical storytelling has got to be some of the best to be showcased this year. A testament to this would be the diverse audience the band have been able to connect to.
Tiny drummer Caitlin Thomas absolutely held her own coming across incredibly badass. And the noise. My god the noise. It cannot be said enough. There is nothing to not like about a band that has five guitarists. The complexities that can be achieved with so many musicians feels almost selfish as an audience member. They have reach-inside-your-body-and-rip-out-your-organs written into their melodies. It inspired punters to dive off stage into empty floors and dreaded kids to climb on shoulders to surf the wave of people that weren’t so into that concept. At the end, Ray asked the crowd to crouch down as they bellowed through their last song. In unison, the crowd stood and slammed heads with neighbours in an appropriate ending to this massive set by this massive upcoming band.
Photos by Karen Lowe