Live Review: State Of The Art - Perth Concert Hall

5 June 2012 | 5:03 pm | Lynn McDonnell

The large audiences who appreciated the eclectic mix of genres was testimony to the quality of home grown music in Western Australia.

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Bass beats emanating from the tarmac on St. Georges Terrace and an intriguing sense of anticipation drew the crowds through the front gates of the Perth Concert Hall surrounds for the inaugural State Of The Art music festival. A smorgasbord of genres and styles, the festival line-up read like a who's who of WA's finest.

The aptly named The Sunshine Brothers greeted festival earlybirds on the St. Georges Terrace outdoor stage with their organic reggae beats. Over at the Riverside stage, a decent crowd gathered for Emperors, and there was a clear disparity between the young head bangers at the front and those hankering for the hair of the dog at the elevated over-18s areas. Despite their early slot, Harold Liller and crew played a highly energetic set with powerful rock'n'roll guitars and hot percussion during Be Ready When I Say Go. Indoors, the sold-out concert hall was buzzing with the arrival of Eskimo Joe. Definitely a well-rehearsed set aimed at entertaining the fans, it also saw a diverse mix of pop, traditional rock and Middle Eastern accompaniments. The most relaxed moment was when Kav Temperley took his acoustic guitar and the strong keyboards that had previously been subdued supported his soft strumming, the crowd getting the chance to appreciate the sheer vocal talent of Temperley.

Back outside, the day started to take shape as The Ghost Hotel gratified the crowd at the Riverside stage with gorgeous Americana harmonies, and Split Seconds' frontman Sean PollardWAMI-award winner for male vocalist of the year entertained the growing masses with Bed Down.

A valiant battle between two Hoodoo Guru fans and over-stringent security at the second indoor showcase marked a definitive change of atmosphere for those wishing to dance and enjoy the old school classic rock'n'roll being produced on stage. When lead man Dave Faulkner intervened and moved the security guard aside, the room exploded and the association between rock'n'roll and anarchy was re-established. The adrenaline burst was solid and, as the audience spilled out onto the St. Georges Terrace stage for San Cisco, there was a sense of mischief in the air. After winning an array of WAMi awards the evening before, the Cisco kids could perhaps be forgiven for a lackluster performance in the face of exhaustion, but there was nothing lacking in their anticipated version of Awkward. If San Cisco set the bar for the next act on stage, The Brow Horn Orchestra took up the challenge with gusto. The dance area inside the tent continued to thrive as the Orchestra's personal funk recipe kept toes moving and dreadlocks bouncing.

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The battle of the leading ladies resulted in a competition between the two outdoor stages as Boom Bap Pow! and Abbe May landed their energetic shows at the same time. Unfortunately for 'Pow, the availability of alcohol from tiered platforms won the hearts of the late night audience and the accomplished rock vocalist (and the other big WAMi winner) treated her audience to another great live show.

Meanwhile, hip hop headliner in the concert hall Drapht took the anarchy approach introduced by 'Gurus and ran with it. Attempts were made by security officials to move people back to their seats at one stage, but the triviality of this was obvious as this reviewer couldn't even see her seats through the synchronized arm bounces and highly excited teenagers.

All in all, State Of The Art is a great idea and the large audiences who appreciated the eclectic mix of genres was testimony to the quality of home grown music in Western Australia. There is definitely enough interest to raise the bar and make this festival into a fully-fledged annual event. A re-approach to the ticketing system may save some confusion though, as asking an individual to choose their acts in advance is a strange interpretation of festival culture.