Live Review: RTRFM Fremantle Winter Music Festival

29 June 2015 | 2:29 pm | Joe WilsonCam Findlay

"Popular rock outfit Tired Lion threw the festival into a grungy stupor with Sophie Hope’s distinct lyrics filling Railway Hotel with angst and tribulation."

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RTRFM’s Fremantle Winter Music Festival was by no means cold when describing the festivities, many of the venues packed to the brim with punters avidly awaiting the appearance of some of their favourite local acts.

Even with early acts like Stoney Joe at North Fremantle Bowling Club, the crowd had already reached a form of fleshy, critical mass, making navigation of the crowds a calamitous effort. Stoney Joe opened the night at the Bowling Club with a warm mixture of country-folk laden with electronic effects, evoking a pleasing clash between traditional and modern music. The track Brown Bread And Rice embodied this perfectly, providing relaxing tonal melodies that the crowd could kick back to. 

Things got nice and lively in the deep recesses of the Swan Basement with both the Dream Rimmy DJs and Golden Slums throwing out a mixed bag of tunes to the warming crowd. The latter’s set was especially welcoming, the band delving into a set of thickly-layered blues rock. 

The collaboration between well-known local musos Lyndon Blue and Rupert Thomas, Spirit Level, might not look like they could produce a wide range of sounds from their limited equipment, but the pair milked every bit of magic out of a few keys, guitars and pedals. They sound something like Panda Bear and Animal Collective — all that by-the-moment experimenting — but with a distinct aesthetic all their own.

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Old Blood did much of the same, building a slow-burning vibe in the North Fremantle Bowling Club. Steadily balancing between classical, soulful blues and full-on swinging jazz, the four-piece displayed a level of ability and substance that’s kept them on the tips of everyone’s tongues for a little while now.

Indie pop duo Dianas rocked it out at Railway Hotel with their signature addictive drum beats and guitar licks. While in some tracks their sound could be described as being stripped back, there was something primal to their stage presence, with their voices evoking something sinister underlying their lyrics. A highlight track was Good Enough Girl, which allowed the duo to belt out their famous harmonies and pragmatic melodies. 

Edie Green played host to the Swan Lounge stage, propagating their own unique blend of indie rock. With the tempo of their performance ranging from the fast-paced Shaky Fingers to the slower backbeat of New Heavy, their songs all shared a common tone: frank, sharp and carefree. The impressive vocals of lead singer Sophie Wiegele helped carry the sentiment of the songs to the crowd.

Popular rock outfit Tired Lion threw the festival into a grungy stupor with Sophie Hope’s distinct lyrics filling Railway Hotel with angst and tribulation. The distinct shifts between the gentle verses through to amplified choruses of For The Wolfman and Too Much Of Nothing, among others, kept the punters entertained by holding them at an intermediary point between placid contemplation and rapid transgression. Tired Lion finished off their set in memorable fashion by belting out favourite I Don’t Think You Like Me, with many onlookers raising their glasses to toast their masterful interpretation of grunge.

Flooded Palace, aka the current act of local heroes Todd Pickett and Luke Dux, played one of the more intimate sets of the night, splayed out across the length of the Swan Lounge stage, a full cadre of punters filling up all the space in the bar from wall to wall. Flooded Palace’s music is dripping in directness and warmth, and they definitely made a strong impression on the audience.

Mudlark gave the punters something different to dance to at Mojo’s with a performance that was solely instrumental. Consisting of a duo — drummer Warsame Hassan and guitarist Steven Bovenizer — their performance was repetitive and cyclical, but in no way boring. A sound and set-up that could be described as being halfway between a DJ and an art-rock band, it was hard to discern where the group wanted to go musically. However, the band’s fast-paced skill in changing the performance’s atmosphere from muddled musicality to dissonance did leave the punters curious. 

Mt Mountain took up all the space on the Swan Basement stage, spreading out as much as possible, which is fair enough for a band as experimental as theirs. Each member seemed to be in their own state of mind, developing their own sounds, but eventually coming back into the fold, the combination producing something wonderfully textured.

The Floors attracted rockers both young and old and had one of the most active crowds at the festival. With a sound that paid homage to eras of rock gone and the skilled guitar playing of Luke Kristoffer Dux and Ryan Dux, it was hard not to feel the band’s performance as being crisp and original. With tracks like Aileen and Blues Brothers call-out, Shake Your Money Maker, the band’s hard-rock fuzz gave the punters something to shake to. 

This year’s Fremantle Winter Music Festival pretty much peaked like you’d hope it would: five venues stretching across North Fremantle, all packed to the brim with people ready and excited to see and experience local live music. The anticipation before each act was palpable, and the immediate connection between the musicians and their audiences was one of shared joy. Yet another reason to acknowledge that, even when it gets too bloody cold, we still know how to put on a good show in this city.