Ink and marker, r. x 2011.
INTERVIEW: ASHLEIGH WHYTE OF PAPER MOUNTAIN
First published by the Space Ship News 29 November 2013
Back in October, Paper Mountain saw their new open workshop project the Common Room finally funded. With just a few days left before the Launch, we talked gigs, Perth artists and illegal casinos with Ashleigh Whyte when she emerged from the debris…
So just what, and why, is the Common Room?
AW: We had just the gallery and permanent studios, and we thought: sometimes artists only need a studio for a few weeks when they’re working on a particular project, so we removed half of a number of studios that we had and put in the Common Room.
This project was crowdfunded through Pozible – how have you found the experience?
AW: We were really overwhelmed with the support of the community. I guess at the start you just think ‘is this really going to work?’ but within a couple of days we reached our goal and exceeded it. People have donated their time, their money, and a library too – we’ve had people donating books, art books, academic texts, books on guinea pigs, gardening, lots of zines – people giving us things, popping in on weekends, scrubbing stairs, painting things – it’s just been really amazing. That reinforces to us that we’re doing a good thing, and I can’t wait to see people using the space.
Amongst the rewards for larger donations were a number of workshops hosted by the Common Room, including a life-drawing class head by yourself. Have you got many more of these planned for the future?
AW: Definitely. That’s one of the main purposes of the space: a lot of people were enquiring about using the gallery for workshops, artist talks and one-off events and we had to turn them down because there was a show in the gallery and that just wouldn’t work – we had put our exhibiting artists first. The Common Room will be available all the time, and we’ll be offering night-time hire of the space as well. We’re accepting proposals for exhibitions and other creative ideas at the moment, but people are approaching us all the time with ideas for the space so we’ll take it as it comes. This just allows us the flexibility to say ‘yes’.
The Common Room is obviously fitted for visual artists, with worktables and even a woodworking shop – is there any room for musicians?
AW: Musicians are welcome and there’s even the opportunity for bands to hire the space for gigs – though we do have a no drums policy, sorry! It’ll be nice to hear acoustic stuff in the Common Room too; there’s always a really good vibe when we bring live musicians into the space. Music and art just mesh so well together; it enhances the whole creative experience. The rooms used to be an illegal casino back in the 1960s (the ‘vault’ we’ve built our loft on is a real concrete vault!), then a gig space after that, so it’s nice to bring that element back into the building. The top of the vault’s all vintage couches, lots of plant life, an indoors-outdoors sort of vibe. I think this is going to be a much nicer atmosphere for people to play in rather than when it was just a stark gallery.
What can we expect from the Launch this Friday, besides the advertised pineapples and popsicles?
AW: We have JAMIE MYKAELA, who’s mostly new to this scene, with Lyndon Blue’s LEAFY SUBURBS and CRAIG MCELHINNEY. We’re opening a new exhibition from artist Claire Pendrigh. We’ve got Abdul Abdullah, a local artist and incredible painter, opening the Common Room, and we’ve got a special announcement involving him on the night. I’m really looking forward to everyone coming down and seeing what we’ve done with the space – I’ve got paint in my hair still from so many late nights working on this place. It’s just exciting to finally show people.
The Common Room Launch is this Friday the 29th of November, 6-9 pm, at Paper Mountain on William Street, Northbridge. Entry is free.
‘INTERVIEW: Paper Mountain’ by Richard Moore.
LIVE REVIEW: ABORTED TORTOISE / THE SILENTS / GUNNS
Saturday 16 November 2013 at the Odd Fellow
First published by the Space Ship News 20 November 2013
In the Odd Fellow, under the Norfolk Hotel, a chic Rockabilly doorgirl bemoans being unable to prevent any trespassers from her position behind the door as members of GUNNS, hot off their invite to play Southbound this summer, ply her with boxes of 7” vinyl records – one to be launched tonight, the new release Live By The Sea. Inside the cosy basement bar supporters ABORTED TORTOISE set up with a sharpness reverberated off the renovations; by their instruments, frontman Lloyd Stowe of the returning SILENTS watches on, one of many already brought out for early doors at eight this evening.
An hour later Aborted Tortoise feel prepared to take the stage, arranging their baby faced members around to jeers from a nearby table full of young punks towed along for the show. On cue the floor is filled by a sparse group of young men poised to attack one another as soon as Tom Milan strums his first riff – and damn can that boy play – but Jesus-lookalike Connor Lane is no stranger to this behaviour, guiding the ball of fists back with shouts of “come closer!” when it breaks away. 70s dreamboat Charles Wickham vanishes behind his locks as Lane howls the band into violent surf punk choruses with crowd hits ‘I Killed My Girlfriend’ and ‘Attention Whore’. Their energy and ferocity is crowned by a new song, ‘Youth Allowance’, the moshing punters lifting one of their number above their heads to drop him at the band’s feet. They leave the stage to the faint scent of sweat evaporating into air conditioning.
Post punkers the Silents take the stage at ten to great ceremony: the crowd has swelled to welcome them back to the Perth scene, well missed of late. The bizarre audience, a mix of every youth stereotype you could place – goths, hippies, metal heads, post punks, slackers all together – push close around the stage as Stowe reigns over a fortune in guitar pedals and slurs “swamp, swamp… gush,” into the microphone. Drummer Michael Jelinek, shared with Gunns, joins them with an unholy combination of wife beater and brown loafers, and bassist Sam Ford breaks the ice with a pounding bassline as Stowe’s dainty nails race across his guitar neck. He shields his eyes against the light: “swamp… gush,” and launches their heavy, pulsing set, one song barely distinguishable from another beneath Stowe’s fevered, mumbled vocals. The pressing crowd applaud politely after each offering, lending a claustrophobic air as Stowe drones over them, growing more brittle and helpless as the night goes on and finishing with a wild, vulnerable yelp to enduring applause.
Finally Gunns mount the stage, beginning late as frontman Clinton Oliver hoarsely negotiates “a shit tonne of delay” with the sound guy. They open with favourite ‘In The Sunshine’ to kick off their launch to an enthusiastic older crowd, Jelinek taking his rightful place at the engine of their summery tunes and bassist Jennifer Aslett pounding on her Henfer violin body bass in tie dye shorts and jellies to the vintage stylings of the outfit. Gunns oppressive beach rhythm cleans up the night with old favourites and two new songs debuted for the crowd, released back into Fremantle long after the last bus home.
‘LIVE REVIEW: Gunns at the Odd Fellow’, by Richard Moore.
LIVE REVIEW: DONALD CRUNK / BOYS BOYS BOYS / MICKEY AVALON
Saturday 19 October 2013 at the Amplifier Bar
First published by Space Ship News 23 October 2013
Who The Fuck Is MICKEY AVALON? reads a t-shirt in the foyer of the Amplifier, followed on the reverse: Who Cares. Tonight marks the second date on Avalon’s current tour, a circuit of Australian cities in support of his newest release, the EP ‘I Get Even’. So who cares? At 8:00 on an October night in the middle of Perth, only a handful of die-hard fans, and as they stare bored holes through opening DJ act DONALD CRUNK and shiver miserably at the snap-chill breeze whipping in from the foyer, even that is going to question.
Who are Donald Crunk, for that matter? Oblivious to the bad reception, these two young men in matching snapbacks and gracious contrast to each other – a bespectacled blonde and a scruffy companion with a permanent frown in a pastel windbreaker – are sucking back beers, whispering conspiratorially and twiddling each other’s knobs. Their set, while smoothly mixed and with a certain liquid quality, is backed against the wall by the glares of the cold, wet, pissed crowd of leather jackets and weaponised accessories. They finish with J. Cole and Missy Elliot’s ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ and leave the stage with little ceremony.
BOYS BOYS BOYS explode into their set like a lobbed hand grenade with a handful of pop crimes and bright costumes. With their snappy dance routines and setlists in hot pink texta, Boys Boys Boys punch through favourites ‘Superfine’ and ‘Ticky Ticky Boom’ and the crowd is slow to come around to their nigh-excruciating enthusiasm, as a few free copies of new single ‘Casio’ are handed out by artpop Koko Wallace. They try in vain to cheer up the unreceptive bouncers – announcing “let’s make it our mission!” to an exhausted sigh – and the set crawls by despite their sugar-high. By closers ‘Get Rad’ and ‘Holiday’, though, the crowd has been won to the tune of drunk dancing and faint smiles.
Finally Mickey Avalon opens to ‘Mickey’ by Tony Basil from the touring DJ, then straight into Avalon’s set to a surge towards the stage and a cheer. A dead man walking, Avalon is a sweaty mess of random tattoos and greasy hair, a stranger to his debut self. His recorded apathy is gone and Avalon kills his own raps with ten times the energy and quality of anything he’s put to tape. Accompanied by a chain-smoking erotic dancer cloned from the bleach blondes of the crowd, Avalon is bored by the sex show and female fans mounting the stage to grind on him in ‘So Rich, So Pretty’; his dancer, re-dressed as a dominatrix, drags her off by the hair. In the mosh pit high heels stab, manicures scratch and a humid cloud of perfume mingles with the scent of spilt drinks. Ignoring the chaos in the crowd, Avalon surges through his releases, focused away from his hits and onto more charismatic tracks including Ke$ha duet ‘Sticky Mickey’ and self-depreciating boast ‘Mr Right’. By the time he’s finished, Avalon has ripped himself down so far there’s no longer a word to use against him, an in-heat freakshow stripped down to nothing and still delivering. And in the end, you have to respect that.
‘LIVE REVIEW: Mickey Avalon at Amplifier’, by Richard Moore.
LIVE REVIEW: BRAVES / GUNNS / CLOUD CONTROL
Saturday 31 August 2013 at the Capitol
First published by Space Ship News 03 September 2013
Early on a Saturday evening the Capitol shows no sign of the indie chaos it will deteriorate into by the end of the night, and Perth band BRAVES starts a saturated set to a sparse crowd clustered around the bar. Tonight they are opening for CLOUD CONTROL, the Sydney indie-pop whiz-kids recently returned for a national tour in support of their second album, ‘Dream Cave’, fresh from recording sessions in Kent, UK.
On paper and on record, the lo-fi cruisers Braves don’t appear much: jangly bite-sized tracks with a few killing riffs and husky vocal duties shared by guitarists Alex Di Giovanni and Sean O’Connor are blissful fillers. But live is a different matter, and with a pristine, studio-clean sound, easy command of the stage and friendly banter with the audience, Braves far outstrip themselves tonight. Drenched in the violet stage lights, Braves’ effortless poppy lines have kids in ugly sweaters bouncing along and foster a perfect vibe for the night to come. Single ‘Hallows’ is a stand-out with its glassy riffs over honeyed fuzz, as much an ode to summer as you’re likely to find this early in the year.
GUNNS take the stage next, blustering onto scene with bassist Jennifer Aslett pawed at by the growing audience and drummer Michael Jelinek’s Reg Mombassa shirt the louder than their blaring PA. With a burst of clean guitars chasing Clinton Oliver’s chiming vocals, Gunns flash and glimmer their way through a laid-back, sunny set barely tethered by Jelinek’s stripped percussion. At ease with their music, Gunns are a strong presence seeped in self-confidence and a nostalgic glow, youth yearning for an idea of the past over one they knew. Call it escapism, but Gunns’ wistful, beach tinged ballads such as ‘Leaving Home’ promise a small nirvana, and the crowd responds in kind.
The night takes a sharp turn as Cloud Control boost up their speakers to bowel-dropping levels. Drummer Ulrich Lenffer, previously lurking in the shadows, peacefully takes the helm for an ear popping intro undulating over the full club as Perth’s resident indie wild children emerge in force to spill drinks down one another and sway as a throng, following the bizarre movements of vocalist Alister Wright and keyboardist Heidi Lenffer on stage.
They surge through their set with a pulse and a pound plumped by Heidi Lenffer’s nord orchestra to outrageous applause, floating weird over the bowel-moving sub tones. Wright’s cheesy stage-banter leaves something to be desired but all slights are forgotten under the power of Cloud Control’s music; he encourages the audience to sing along, decides they might be awful and then lets it go for throbbing ‘Why Oh Why’ and wonders at the sheer number of birthdays he’s summoned by announcing ‘Happy Birthday’ from the new album. Heidi Lenffer channels art pop divas the world around in her white jumpsuit, her angelic voice plush behind Wright while the simulated night sky churns over them: dusk to dark to dawn. The faithful crowd, following the band – says Heidi – for five years now, leave on a crystal, lucid note, lifted through youth and nostalgia to a glowing future.
‘LIVE REVIEW: Cloud Control at Capitol’ by Richard Moore.
LIVE REVIEW: ARKAYAN / AXE CANE / BEYOND NEVER / EVOLUTION MACHINE
Friday 31 May 2013 at the Rosemount Hotel
First published by the Space Ship News 02 June 2013
It’s freezing tonight and this may be why the Rosemount has a sparse crowd at best for the launch of EVOLUTION MACHINE’s EP, ‘Beautiful Monster’. Entry at the door includes a copy of the EP (already reviewed by Chris Gardner on Spaceship) and the only shelter from the cold is inside, the outside heaters already crowded by metalheads and goths in full regalia – and the more usual form, in plain t-shirt, old jeans and flowing hair, here for the decent line up forming the prelude to Evolution Machine themselves.
First on is ARKAYAN, an endeavouring young band with dual vocalists Rachelina Santella and Jon Mazzardis. Their particular brand of working class bloke metal has been done before but far, far worse, and with the charismatic Mazzardis centre-stage the group start the evening on solid ground with humour and warmth in the face of adversity. Returning from a 6-month hiatus, Arkayan is in top form and if not for the usual acoustic trouble of live sets, would be sure to deliver.
Next on the bill is AXE CANE, an older band that appear to have come straight out of the factory packaging for stage in both their polished expertise and their generic performance; they even have their own uniforms. If it’s possible to be too rehearsed, this is what holds back Axe Cane; a lack of spontaneity counterpointed by forced enthusiasm in the face of an unreceptive crowd. With admirable professionalism Axe Cane grit their teeth and move on to the next act, BEYOND NEVER.
What to say about Beyond Never. The audience finally whipped into either windmills of hair thrashing and dramatic gestures or hysterical laughter, Beyond Never are… something. The band itself performs classic melodic metal with prodigious keys from background member Ken Ellis and a sense of harmony between all parts, but this is eclipsed, enhanced and engulfed by the theatrical elements of its three lead ‘faces’, with Kristen Sanfead’s stoic knightess axe shredding, Jacob Kenny’s hilarious, joyous glam posturing behind his blood-splattered guitar, his luxurious mane flowing in the stage fan breeze, and vocalist Clayton Mitchell’s ridiculous rasp for stage rap and barely containable forces of evil churning inside as he lurches around the stage like some unhinged Disney villain. Next to co-vocalist Vincent Trikeriotis in casual hoodie and jeans struggling not to laugh mid-song at his bandmate’s antics, the trio battle their way through their set to the delight of the more theatrical members of the crowd and the side stitches of everyone else until Mitchell’s farewell: “Fuck sweet dreams; dream evil.”
Finally Evolution Machine takes the stage, the guests of honour for the evening and on the spot to deliver their very best. Their industrial clashing and melodic guitar lines fight against the crippling cold outside at full volume with shrill, piercing keys from Guy Lillico. Their first numbers blur by in the shadow of Beyond Never’s set, their lead singer Brooke Anderton appearing shy and sheepish in contrast even with their impressive song length; Evolution Machine simply isn’t cut out for the live or metal format and staggers through its set, with only a cover of Roxette’s ‘Listen To Your Heart’ early on showing the real strength of their guitar work and Anderton’s bluesy voice, lost in the cold machine otherwise in a criminal misapplication.
‘LIVE REVIEW: ARKAYAN / AXE CANE / BEYOND NEVER / EVOLUTION MACHINE’ by Richard Moore.
LIVE REVIEW: SINCERELY GRIZZLY / TRAIL OF DEAD
Saturday 25 May 2013 at the Rosemount Hotel
First published by the Space Ship News 29 May 2013
Another Saturday night at the Rosemount and the venue is slowly filling with languid, well-groomed twenty-somethings for the last night of Texas alt-rock band … AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD’s Australian tour. Special guests SINCERELY, GRIZZLY are due on stage any moment now, though the bar is high tonight: Trail Of Dead will be playing from their 2002 album, ‘Source Tags & Codes’, widely regarded as their classic.
But Sincerely, Grizzly are no strangers to high bars. Long-time Trail Of Dead fans, this is the standard they’ve held themselves to, and this devotion to quality is obvious as they launch into their set. After a stuttering start and lead vocalist and guitarist Joshua Calligeros’ math lesson lyrics, the set is into full-swing with drummer Rowan Mount exploding at his kit, flanked by the brooding Griffin Farley on bass and Calligeros’ staccato delivery, his eyes fixed firmly on his sock-clad feet.
With their informed, spitting lyrics and tide wash of sound, Sincerely, Grizzly would like you to believe they are the literature whizz-kids of this thrash rock scene, but the crowd are instead wrapped in a casual, feel-good vibe. Calligeros’ wrestles with a guitar like a surgical nightmare: all electrical tape and loose wires, it falls domestic to his deliberate and skilful fret work. The bass snarls beneath these jangling guitar lines, and between them Mount having the time of his life behind the kit with sharp cheeky grins and victorious tom rolls as their set pounds to a finish not short of a little drum stick carnage courtesy of Calligeros. “A dream tour,” he declares, now at its close.
When the lights drop again, the audience ebbs to the stage and the band come on to an enthusiastic but polite cheer: there is respect in this room. Trail Of Dead’s first set consists entirely of ‘Source Tags & Codes’, with the album’s signature sound complemented by a decade’s worth of complexity, skill and maturity from creative engines Conrad Keely and Jason Reece, both on vocals and guitar, and multi-instrumentalists Jamie Miller on drums and guitar, and Autry Fulbright II on bass. Reece and Miller will play tag-team for the entirety of these sets, with Reece taking the stage for his songs – including fan favourite ‘Homage’ – and then swapping with Miller to revitalise the percussion as the set drags on; and while perhaps Keely too can’t bear eye contact, Trail Of Dead isn’t shy of marathon tracks like ‘Monsoon’ or the title track ‘Source Tags & Codes’, pursued with an intense and fine industry.
The crowd thrash along to the band as they launch straight into their second set without pause, playing off their other offerings including the new album ‘Lost Song’. Trail Of Dead cast long shadows with mystical, glass-like guitar melodies floating over the distant thunder of their metal influences; the songs are hurricane confusion with the clear eye of the storm moving through each track. What is one moment a throbbing riff, a guitar scream, an assault is then bell-jar delicacy. Trail Of Dead finish anthemic, thematic, and huge as they welcome Calligeros’ onto stage for their final encores. He looks more ecstatic to be in Trail Of Dead than Sincerely, Grizzly – but who isn’t, in the face of their heroes?
‘LIVE REVIEW: Trail Of Dead at the Rosemount Hotel’, by Richard Moore.