Like a steaming, sloppy bacon sanger, the West Australian Music festival is a glorious miracle hangover cure. A stellar, comprehensive celebration of the best of contemporary WA artistry, the WAM fest has year after year been a soothing antidote for any leftover maladies gifted to you by riotous Halloween festivities. It was with queasy aplomb that I ventured up to Northbridge to be embraced by the swathe of incredible talent lured in by the annual fest’s prestigious pedigree and warm, positive reputation amongst the locals. The scent of brews, durries and $5 pizza emanated from each of the erected stages dotted all over the clubbing district, and the streets were mobbed. Catching Moana strutting their psychedelic artistry and skater/alt-rock outfit Sly Withers fervently enjoy their first WAM definitely massaged my thumping skull, and Cubs and Ah Trees eased the nausea in my gut until it was no more than a tickle. Soon enough, I was feeling like Patrick again instead of simply a Patrick impersonation, and it was time to review.
First up on my roster was the calming relax-rock of Verge Collection. The winners of last year’s Southbound music competition brought their triumphant tunes to the Block Party arena and rapidly infected everyone with their delirious positivity. Sun-soaked vocals perfectly complement their easy lyrics and extremely – for lack of a better word – likeable guitarmanship, sounding something like the younger brothers of Sydney legends Sticky Fingers passionately weaving their own path to musical stardom. Their slight but magnificent EP entitled Open Plan Living implanted many a delightful earworm in my head; it’ll take me all week to stop singing “I know, I know, I know…too much about you now!” Brilliant.
And then it was time for something completely, utterly different: Skullcave, a critically acclaimed hardcore heavy metal band specialising in a unique brand of “doomgazing”. Skullcave were set to play in the remotest stage set up of the entire fest, away out of the way in the hilariously and aptly-named The Badlands which prided itself on its grungey punk orientation. The intimidating band members stood almost motionless but their music was anything but: hyper-kinetic and powerfully concussive like a shot of adrenaline to the aorta, their doom-focused stories and gargantuan riffs fuelled the contagiously intense moshing of their devoted disciples. It was a fantastic display of a truly niche genre, and one I’d now definitely consider indulging in a little further.
Foam came on next at The Badlands, and predictably and absolutely smashed it. The heavy-alt rock group took up where Skullcave left off, coaxing even more punkish devotees to the moshpit with their intense and intelligent melodies that always seemed a little more chaotic than melodic. With four beloved EPs and a slew of huge Aussie festivals notched upon their belt, Foam‘s addictive brand of fucking epic Clash-esque/Placebo-esque but Triple J-friendly punk sensibilities have gifted them many fans all over the country, who all must be rejoicing for the imminent release of their debut album in 2017, and their performance at WAM did not let us down. They were upbeat, enormous, and ferocious. Bring on next year’s album!
Lastly, the superbly named Hideous Sun Demon rounded out what was honestly an indelible punk/heavy-rock display at WAM this year. The formidable Freo four-piece had a phenomenal live reputation before the gig, but, as a conclusion to the jubilant WA fest, their performance was nothing short of masterful. Playfully interacting with the screaming, sweaty crowd of dedicated moshers, and charming the entire Block Party with their funny, witty lyricism and rebellious musicianship, Demon certainly lived up to all expectations. Their brilliant, dynamic punk prowess had everybody bopping and cheering; a just dessert that WA music truly deserves. Until next year WAM!