Live Review: WAM Festival Saturday Spectacular

10 November 2015 | 4:09 pm | Jasmine Uitermark ThaungBlake ByrneNikki Ward

Punters have only begun to scratch the surface of WA live music.

Tucked away behind one of those ubiquitous, non-descript Irish pubs, there was a serving of bone-shaking music on the menu at The Boston. Starting things off in the afternoon were retro rockers Catzilla, a remodelled Rocket To Memphis. There’s some new members, less rockabilly and more upbeat beehive-pop provided by the matching cat dress-wearing Coo on lead vocals and keys and Tracey on bass. Guitarist Andy Razor still brings his trademark fuzzed-out garage flavour to the catchy tunes. Switching between a Fender jazz-master and late Gibson-modelled hollow body guitar, he provides the on-note feedback sound for that ‘60s garage vibe and some ripping solos. Also of note were Tracey’s animal noises, sounding like a cross between a kookaburra and an ape on Going Wild, the title track from the band's upcoming debut vinyl EP of the same name, which was recorded and mixed in New York.

Venturing over to Flyrite to see Ah Trees, a collaborative project of members from Lacey and Frighteners, one was welcomed by the sounds of Bodies, the band's debut release. The band really showed of their skill with a new untitled track. While its lament-filled lyrics made for an interesting juxtaposition against the cheerful crowd, its funky lead riffs gave frontman Ryan Adair's reverb-soaked vocals a chance to soar over the rhythmic tone.

Over at The Moon, the change of scenery came with a change of genre as Alex Brittan’s pop melodies from his second EP, Thirsty Bird, lulled among the soft chatter of the dining patrons. Complex keyboard notes and catchy lyrics oozed their way into our ears.

As we rushed down William Street to see indie pop dreamers TEIJ, we could hear Tahlia Beeson's seductive vocals echoing down the road, as a solo riff crept out across the milling punters. The Perth outfit showed off the diversity in their set that’s given debut release, Tell The Boys, so much traction.

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Down at The Bird, Hyla produced satisfyingly polished high-gain fuzz and effected dreamy vocals that captivate your soul. Their intensely dynamic and textural style was both relaxing and uplifting.

Back at The Moon, singer-songwriter Bri Clark wove raw honesty into her set. Her vulnerability bursts out on stage, giving songs like Twin Stars huge impact.

Rag N’ Bone exploded with energy and enthusiasm. Their sound is theatrical, defined by raw, punky guitar, hyperactive bass and elegant, beguiling vocals from stylish frontwoman Keira Owen.

Thee Loose Hounds were up next, sporting paisley shirts and a centrepiece silver glitter guitar. These guys don’t understand the word mild. With the cymbals working overtime, guitars duelling each other and some scream-like vocals, the three-piece stirred up the room and then threw in some deranged Korg keys on their tune Painkillers, described by the band as “being drunk on a train if you listen to it”.

Describing themselves as “like the Stooges fighting Hank Williams”, The Coalminers Sect veer between slower folksy rock waltzes and some cracking fuzzed-out stompers such as their cover of The Troggs' classic I Want You, which has just been released as a single. 

Another testosterone fuelled punk five-piece, Hope Street give us hope that there can be something new brought to the vast ocean that is punk. Thrashing and head-throbbing beats presented in the form of smart casual lads and elements of post-hardcore make for a great night out.

Blues meets grunge at the hands of influential trio, The Drools. Ben’s soft-spoken vocal transitioned with his raspy yelling adds a unique characteristic to their sound. Their style is a throwback to The Pixies. 

Calm and collected and ‘60s rock innovators, Segue Safari do justice to the old straight edge four-piece bands back in the black and white days. They bring a certain modern quality to the sound with their synths and the vocal effects. Their sound gives you the image of “The Beatles slow dancing with Tame Impala”.

The acoustic folky surf sound of Verge Collection is beautiful and peaceful. The tune by the four friends titled Our Place will resonate with anyone who has a friend that needs a hand with some troubles. They know exactly how to relate to the Australian masses and that makes the continent their oyster.

Flyrite quickly became a favourite venue of this writer Saturday night, purely because of the music they delivered. While lacking in stage presence, Childsaint took all your fears and used them to fuel their fire, lacing them among their broody angst-filled vocals. At one point Rhian Todhunter, the group's bassist, apologised for bringing the mood down but all was forgiven when their melodies flowed in Hallelujah Heartache.

The high-energy five-piece The Flying Embers showcased their rage through their music, as opposed to their stage presence. Their screaming solos and fast paced riffs have helped them to gain some recognition in the Perth scene.

Ambience is the signature element possessed by smooth rockers Our Man In Berlin. Their significant droning fuzz separates the bell style synth and shimmering guitar tones in their music. These guys have manufactured and carefully hand-crafted tunes for you to indulge in.

GRRL PAL started with their latest release, Suggest. Light and sugary in tone, lead singer Jay LeKat, wore a cute little cat jumper and a cute little tennis skirt and danced a cute little dance with her cute little blonde bob and started to win us over as she beckoned the crowd forward.  Her range and likeness to her recordings was both impressive and relieving to know that although they are a heavily electronic influenced sound, there is still truth and realness to their live music. They pulled out an instant favourite with a cover of Drake’s Hotline Bling and got a few people dancing along, while bringing out some huge synth sounds that reverberated around the carpark while staying super sweet.

Following the calmness of night and taking it down a notch further were Fait. The projection in their set was a beautiful blossoming image that kept twinkling and growing with the music as it built an electric atmosphere. The amount of power behind all of their tracks was something to commend without the need for vocals. Although they appeared disconnected by appearance and from the crowd they were entirely united in sound. 

Four-piece High Horse comprise straight-up rockers. They showcased their experience as musicians with their instinctual onstage communication and ability to play loud without competing with one another. They deliver pleasantly crunchy, driven guitars and boppy bass and drum rhythms completed by the admirable vocals of the wonderful Timothy Nelson.

Nerve Quakes showcased their politico rock tunes from their EP released earlier this year, notably Meliorism­, named for the belief that the world tends to improve and that humans can aid its betterment. Strong ballad-like vocals from Caitie Moondog featured over the driving rock throb of the band. 

The Yokohomos kept their legend alive with frontman/vocalist Oscar Jack providing Iggy Pop-inspired theatre, twitching and writhing with every phrase and progressively releasing himself from the burden of bourgeois clothing. Wearing a business suit like a straightjacket, Jack peeled down to a leopard-print body stocking and finally to his bare chest. Jack’s ability to travel effortlessly from low grumbling growls to high-pitched melodramatic screaming pitches, in synch with the band’s unexpected changes in tempo and subtle bridges, makes for an interesting fusion of progressive punk with some heavy fuzzed-out tones and hints of bass funk, reminiscent of early Beasts Of Bourbon.

With crystal clean guitars that cut through the mix and a vocalist that doesn’t hold back, Spilt Cities are a band to watch in the new year. Their organic alt rock grooves and the home reno’ guitars portray their angsty nature. The folk and punk elements certainly give these guys a different edge.

If there was one act at Flyrite that couldn't be missed it was The Brow, a happy-go-lucky six-piece brass and beats band. You'd have to have been made of stone for their infectious rhythms not to seize your muscles as the band's latest release Bermuda Love Triangle, an impressive display of swinging vocals and punchy trumpets, pierced the air.

We set off for Jimmy's Den, an intimate rendezvous for musicians aplenty. Known for its impeccable sound, the venue kept true to form throughout Black Stone From The Sun's set where they pumped out tracks from their second EP Death Threats & Cigarettes. The two-man band took no prisoners. At times their energy and guts resulted in flying drumsticks while the driving beat demanded attention. The screaming grunge vocal harmonies, thrashing guitar and heavy drums of are reminiscent of classic '90s American punk bands. The two-piece are becoming well acquainted with the studio, with their latest tune Pastel Roses currently gaining weight. 

Cool kids Hip Priest have an abundance of swagger and tasty music. If you’ve seen their photo shoot recently you’d know they also have tasty faces… go see for yourselves. Their use of 8-bit synths and ambient guitars hints at gamers with a love of cultural nostalgia.

Psychedelic and lo-fi bundle Psychedelic Porn Crumpets have long sustained a reputation as a must-see band for any Perthian music lover. Their uplifting performance was supported by the sound of chiming guitar leads and quick-paced lyrics.

The Bob Gordons kept the bare-chested theme alive and got down to sweaty punk rock business with a solid set of old-school flavoured tunes such as Too Drunk and Average At Best

Four mates combine their infinite energy and metal wisdom to bring you Sail On! Sail On!, a band with some of the most abrasive and aggressive passion to be witnessed in the music scene, period. No one can guess exactly what their next move will be. Spontaneity is their draw card.

You’ll want to drive to the beach after hearing Silver Hills in action. Their ‘60s surf elements infused with the shoegaze levels of effects make for the most relaxed and elegant show around. It’s nice to hear such a smooth band that is so on point stylistically. The vocalist has a subtle, clearly spoken tone, and they were one of the few bands whose lyrics were perfectly audible live.

Chainsaw Hookers hit the stage with their newly released single, Make Them Die Slowly, and the vibe at The Boston got a whole lot darker. With unrelenting screaming vocals and a thuggish backing sound and drawn-out rock guitar solos, this was no easy-listening feat. It was sort of like Angry Anderson on speed, somehow encapsulating the angst of Perth’s boredom-inducing outer suburbs. 

Lost in a blur of long hair being thrown about the muggy atmosphere, Skullcave launched into their doom gaze sound with no warning. Only released last month, their EP Climbing has already gained the trio a significant following. How To Tell You're Winning in particular had members of the crowd yelling out the lyrics between gulps of beer.

After taking time out to recover from the onslaught (and missing the set from The Shakeys), there was some relief in the form of The Floors who delivered a slower-paced, spaced-out punk blues sound, notably on Built From Bones, an emotive swamp of a song about doomed relationships and self-survival. Luke Dux’s vocals are well suited to the dirty hypnotic soundscape and well seasoned in conveying pain. 

As eyes were beginning to get a little droopy, Flowermouth punctured the air of the remaining punters that hadn't ventured over to the Block Party next door. Bringing up the mood of the venue, their pop punk sound gifted us enough energy to get up and dance around to Urethane while their howling guitars made peace with street lights.

The three-piece garage rockers, Foam, have a special place in the Perth music scene. Their infectious melodies, grainy guitar and driving bass lines have these guys listed regularly on the bill with bands like DZ Deathrays and The Rubens. These guys sound like the love child of Foo Fighters and Nirvana.

Finishing The Boston’s dirty work for the night were WAM winners of best punk/hardcore band Scalphunter. The punk metal rawwwwk intensity of this band is like a tsunami that totally washes out anything else that came before it. Perth punk was punching guts all WAM long at The Boston.

Will Stoker & The Embers are a fantastic band to watch live. With drawn-out solos and extremely intense build-ups from the word go, these surf style punk-rockers embrace a ‘60s rock influence and their style brings you back to the Zeppelin/Who era.

Well received in the indie rock corner of Perth, Tired Lion got their crowd and their mosh but with each song I heard another band to compare them to. Paramore, No Doubt, hints of Evanescence? Finishing up, they proved their ignorance to new genres again in a sarcastic comment comparing the following act to Darude’s Sandstorm, which was far from the case. (I don't think you like them? - Ed.)

Any involvement in Perth’s electronic music scene would have you at least hearing of the duo Command Q.  After recently signing onto OWSLA’s (yes just Sonny’s label, no biggie) Nest HQ and smashing their Aust/NZ tour in July, there were fair expectations to how much they could deliver. With the disclaimer that everything they were playing was brand new, we got more than we bargained for as they dived into a perfect story of percussion meeting the synthesised music world, while sounding completely organic and true to their vision.

The harder hitting ‘bangerz’ were gone but the energy and immensity of their set caused the whole crowd to roll with them. There were mosh-ers, girls-on-shoulders and arguably the biggest and most active crowd of the whole day, bringing night to a close with an electric high.

Over 80 bands later and punters have only begun to scratch the surface of WA live music — here's to WAM Festival 2016!