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Live Review: RTRFM Winter Music Festival

25 July 2012 | 10:37 am | Luke ButcherJayde Ferguson

With three venues boasting five stages, Fremantle once again hosted the annual RTRFM Winter Music Festival. Mojo's was the first to come alive through rockabilly three-piece Blazin' Entrails. Armed with a sticker-disguised double bass, a Gretsch and a drum kit, they take almost everything you miss about old school rock'n'roll and infuse it with killer guitar solos and finger-breaking bass energy somewhere between the Dead Kennedys and The Living End. One of the local acts leading the '90s alt-grunge revival, Mezzanine were the first act to grace The Railway Hotel stage with a raucous set bestowed upon a healthy early crowd. The four-piece ensured the venue's loud aesthetic was used in their favour with a great set that showed no signs of eight o'clock ambivalence. Swiftly departing to a near full Swan Hotel and seasoned vets Dilip 'n The Davs turned the up the party with a sweaty set of reggae roots and unmistakable funk. Turning out party covers of the seminal Monkey Man alongside their own tunes, the d-floor couldn't help but shake to the sexy sax and guitar solos a plenty. As the band's rogue bassist made use of his wireless, strutting through the crowd and onto the bar, moments of hedonistic indulgence were unavoidable. Heading up stairs, and as their name suggests, The Flower Drums provided variety and knew how to excite. Despite tonight's vocals forced to hide amongst the strong instrumental combinations, their classic-rock, rag-doll sound had a great feel, making for a very fun live band.

Back down stairs at the Swan, Ensemble Formidable eased into a set of ragtime big-band funk that had a now full room sweating along with them. An interesting and enjoyable proposition, unfortunately the sincere and socially conscious messages behind each song got diminished to gimmicks through the patronizing frontman's antics. Racing back to The Railway in time to catch Usurper Of Modern Medicine's set proved a great move as the three-piece pulled off one of the best sets this scribe has seen hem play. Walking the tight rope of live loops as good as ever, the loud cacophony of excess was absolutely spot on. Easing their way into an explosive set, back at the Swan, The Weapon Is Sound filled the basement with deep, hypnotising beats of psychedelic-dub filled reggae. The growling sounds of the sax and trumpet brought the stage to life, with thick sexy bass riffs, soul-fusing abundant keys, crisp inventive drumming and almost spooky guitar riffs of the eight-piece equating to some splendid, pulsating tunes. Back to The Railway and Felicity Groom (with the obligatory Tame Impala fill-in) closed out a house-party vibe with a set hampered by minor sound issues, though ones that only proved quality songwriting will always shine through. On the topic of quality songwriting, Rocket To Memphis at Mojo's gave another clinic. The dark, voodoo-swampabilly act honouring the quiff-filled, full audience with plenty of swagger and some sultry, zombie-faced on-stage dancers that perfectly personified the variety and necessity of the evening's hosts, RTRFM.