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LIVE REVIEW – STATE OF THE ART FESTIVAL, Perth, 31 May 2014

| 11 June 2014 | Reply

STATE OF THE ART FESTIVAL – featuring a cast of many
Saturday 31 May 2014
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Photography by Shane Pinnegar

More reviews & photos to follow soon!
With 90 ish performers spread throughout the city’s cultural centre over 8 stages – four free to the public, all access to the other four for the bargain price of only $35 – SOTA was always going to have hundreds of possible running orders.

2014 05 31 State Of The Art Festival Perth - The Stems  (11)

The Stems in action

As a celebration of Western Australia’s abundant musical talent, Perth was spoilt for choice by SOTA – despite the thriving hard rock and metal communities being completely ignored yet again.

100% ROCK arrived early to familiarise ourselves with the layout, and already music was happening.

CRI$I$ MR SWAGGER threw down some old-school breakbeats on the PICA stage, including Tone Loc’s Wild Thing; CODEE-LEE made folk vibrant outside the Museum; while personal favourite CHRIS GIBBS ran through tracks from his two solo albums including Oh Well, the sublimely tender Fragile Man, On The Ropes and Building An Empire – featuring a great acoustic guitar flourish, inadvertently cool harmonics from the theramin-robot-man in the background, and as big a rock finish as a solo acoustic dude can manage. It’s a performance worthy of many more listeners – a problem that will plague all the performers on the minor stages today.

Chris Gibbs

Chris Gibbs

Walking from here to there we pass ginger-afro’d Timothy Nelson, sharing countrified grooves to enthral the Wetlands stage, before finding AXE GIRL, featuring singer/guitarist Addison Axe out front of the Jebediah rhythm section, and what Vanessa Thornton & Brett Mitchell don’t know about indie punkish rock ain’t worth knowing. They deliver a bouncy set of fun, quirky tunes that show the buzz about them is entirely justified. Shampoo My Hair, California, Back Seat, Animatronic, Silence and their irrepressible first single Give Me Your T-Shirt are as catchy a set of tunes as we’ve heard since Transvision Vamp or Blondie’s heyday.

Axe Girl's Vanessa Thornton

Axe Girl’s Vanessa Thornton

We pass local favourite LUKE DUX playing some blistering raw blues out front of the museum, accompanied by a vibrant harmonica, before taking a lunch break further on down the road. When we return, MOONDOG J are raising Cain with their hollerin’ blues rock outside PICA, while BLACK SWAN do their blues on the Wetlands stage in a decidedly more acoustic style.

THE FLOORS follow in the swampy tradition of The Scientists, Lime Spiders and Beasts Of Bourbon with an incendiary and primal set of bass-heavy rock n’ fucking roll, with Come Stand In The Fire leaving the throng with a burning sensation.

Luke Dux of The Floors

Luke Dux of The Floors

From their alt-country roots THE KILL DEVIL HILLS have evolved into a darker and more Birthday Party-esque band that ooze a troublesomely palpable sense of danger. It’s awesome and very rock n’ roll, and with the rhythm section of Ryan Dux and Todd Pickett carrying over from The Floors, and the ginger binge-er Timothy Nelson providing keys, it’s a perfectly straight line for the day.

Taking a wander to stretch the legs and soak up some more of the ample talent on offer, we bump into ROB WALKER playing outside the Library to a handful of enraptured fans, proving himself one of the State’s most passionate and emotive singer/songwriters.

The captivating Rob Walker

The captivating Rob Walker

KIM SALMON should need no introduction in this town. One of W.A.’s most critically respected and revered cult artists, he remains true to his reputation as a blazer of his own trail, playing a set of new tracks (Unadulterated), old (the thrashy and trashy New York Dollsy Cheap & Nasty), and touching on his Scientists, Surrealists and Beasts Of Bourbon days with (for the third set in a row, Todd Pickett on drums, and Pete Stone playing bass). It’s loud-quiet-loud, much like the grunge movement he and his partners in crime helped to inspire, and it’s never less than an enthralling swampy gobble bliss bomb of a set.

ESKIMO JOE’s set in the State Theatre Centre proved impossible to enter, but THE BLACK EYED SUSANS are no second best, having been a thang for 25-or-so years, and they took the stage with complete confidence and a set that’s led by Rob Snarski’s succulent vocals and finished by a resolute cover of Springsteen’s State Trooper.

If ever there was a West Aussie band that coulda-shoulda-woulda, it’s THE STEMS. Tonight they wow the Urban Orchard stage as a truly legendary cult band should. From Mr Misery, through For Always and She Sees Everything, Dom Mariani’s perfect power pop meshes completely with Julian Matthews and David Shaw’s rhythm section, and new boy Ashley Naylor’s guitar. It’s a tribal and unequivocal set that sees the crowd swell to near capacity, with Surround Me and Can’t Get Along With You leading to a glorious finish with At First Sight.

The Stems - Dom Mariani

The Stems – Dom Mariani

STATE OF THE ART is eclectic and diverse (though with the reservations mentioned at the start), and it’s a fun day. That the free stages with local troubadours are under-attended is a difficult one to solve, and the music bleed from stage to stage did no-one any great favours, but as an event it is organised, publicised and run brilliantly – much better, in fact, than in the previous two years.

Long may we see it continue.

 

Shane

Category: Live Reviews, Photo Galleries

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